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County awards contract for another section of trail

Pierce County has awarded a $1.3 million contract that will pay for a 3.3-mile section of the Foothills Trail between Orting and South Prairie. Work on the project is expected to begin in late April or early May.

The project's completion - expected by the end of summer - will provide the trail's final link between Orting and South Prairie. Presently, the trail extends about three miles east of Orting along the Carbon River. The new section, which will connect with a previously completed segment in South Prairie, features four small bridges which allow the trail to cross drainage ways leading to South Prairie Creek. It borders the creek in places and includes a four-acre wetland replacement site.

The Foothills Trail is being constructed on the former Burlington Northern Railroad right of way. The trail corridor consists of a 12-foot wide asphalt path with 2-foot shoulders on each side and a 5-foot wide equestrian path made of natural material.

The trail project began in 1989, following BN's abandonment of the rail line three years earlier. The trail has been constructed in sections as finances, environmental permits and county ownership have allowed. More than seven miles of trail have been constructed in the McMillin and Orting areas, and additional sections have been built in Buckley and South Prairie. When complete, the trail will be more than 28 miles in length.

Bids will be advertised this summer for the McMillin to Meeker section, which is the first to proceed north from the McMillin trailhead. It will extend the trail toward Sumner more than four miles. This section will be constructed along an active railroad line which provides rail service to companies in the area.

Earning the contract for the upcoming work between Orting and South Prairie was Robison Construction of Sumner. The project attracted 12 bidders.

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