Two sections of a southwestern Washington rail-trail that suffered bridge wash-outs in 2007 will remain closed for at least another year.
The two bridge replacement projects on the 56-mile-long Willapa Hills Trail were scheduled for completion this fall. Although work had started at the two sites in Lewis County, the contracts will have to be bid again.
That means that bicyclists, hikers and equestrians who use the Willapa Hills Trail will have to wait at least another year before two bridge-replacement projects can be finished.
The Willapa Hills Trail that stretches for 56 miles from Chehalis to South Bend on the Pacific Coast is a rail-trail known for the many trestles that cross creeks and rivers that drain this wet region. The trail is smoothed and paved at each end, although the center portion is remote and can be rough going with gravel or ballast or mud.
You might remember the region was hit hard in the storms of 2007 flooded the entire region, including parts of Interstate 5 that passed through the town of Chehalis.
The trestles and bridges left over from the Northern Pacific Railway took a beating in that storm. The trail is still suffering the impact of that flooding, as at least two bridges on the Willapa Hills Trail that were washed out during that flood still haven’t been replaced.
The bridge closures mean two long detours onto area roads. The Spooner Road bridge detour is 4.5 miles, and another detour near Dryad is about 1.5 miles.
The state received Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to replace the Spooner Road bridge near Adna and another trestle near Dryad, and last year received permits to go ahead with the projects. When I visited in April, work appeared to be underway at both sites, but has since stopped.
These two FEMA projects aren’t the only two bridges that could use attention on the Willapa Hills Trail.
A long trestle over the Chehalis River west of Adna is still officially closed due to lack of a bridge deck, although bicyclists and hikers use it be stepping from one cross-tie to another.
A shorter trail bridge just west of Lebam in Pacific County also is missing, requiring a short detour onto a nearby road.
Even so, this is very scenic trail that doesn’t see much traffic, probably because of its condition. To learn more about the current trail conditions, check out the Willapa Hills Trail Fans page at Facebook. Members have created a very useful Google Map of the Willapa Hills Trail.
Also, check out Traillink.com for the Willapa Hills Trail and others.