The good news on the Foothills Trail front – on the Enumclaw side, anyway – is that another stretch of pavement may soon be open for use. On the other end of the spectrum, it appears that completion of the long-awaited bridge over the White River is delayed until 2023.
The ongoing work and proposed timelines were detailed last week in an emailed message from Chris Erickson, project manager with King County Parks and Recreation.
With 20-plus miles of continuous, paved trail on the Pierce County side of the project, Foothills Trail fans are anxiously eyeing the Enumclaw portion and related construction of the bridge that will tie everything together.
Enumclaw has, for several years, boasted a trail segment that parallels state Route 410 and includes a trailhead – with parking and portable restrooms – at Warner Avenue. Until last fall, 252 nd Avenue South was the end of the line as far as improvements went; an unimproved section continued south.
King County initially tackled what it identifies as “Segment A” and added 3,000 feet of pavement running south from 252 nd. Recently, crews have been extending things further, reaching the historic (but largely out of sight) Boise Creek Bridge.
Another 400 feet of trail is expected to open in mid-December, Erickson said, “when the landscaping is completed and the additional trail is signed off for occupancy by the King County Permitting Division.”
Pavement to the bridge is visible now from Mud Mountain Road, just a bit east of SR 410.
According to Erickson’s email, the many walkers, runners and cyclists who enjoy the Enumclaw side of the Foothills Trail will have to be content with reaching Boise Creek for some time.
The project manager noted there were “unforeseen deficient structural conditions” that were discovered when crews excavated around the foundation of the Boise Creek Bridge. The bridge is currently getting a structural retrofit, Erickson said, and is scheduled to be partially open with the rest of the Segment A portion of the trail in early March 2021.
That segment will now terminate at the halfway point on the small bridge, providing a distinct dead-end straddling Boise Creek.
The remainder of the picturesque bridge will not be open until a structural retrofit takes place, Erickson said. Making matters worse, that cannot happen at this time because it involves excavation in a critical area not identified under the existing permit. So, the schedule is unknown for the remaining Boise Creek Bridge retrofit work, Erickson said.
“It may take place in the next year,” he said, “or most likely in 2022 with the rest of the Segment B portion of the project.”
Now, about the bridge over the White River, the missing link between King and Pierce counties.
The structure – identified as a footbridge, but with the capability of handling vehicles in an emergency – has been planned for years. It’s a joint undertaking of both counties, along with the cities of Enumclaw and Buckley. And it’s also expensive, but a funding package was eventually assembled from a variety of sources.
Trail boosters have heard the bridge was planned for recent years, with plans pushed back each time. The county’s Parks and Recreation website still notes that trail construction “is scheduled to take place during 2018 while the bridge is scheduled to be set in place the following year.” Under the current schedule, work is slated to begin in 2022 and continue into 2023, Erickson reported.
A Parks and Recreation spokesman confirmed last week that the necessary bridge funding is still intact.
Adding to the complexity of the project, Erickson said, are some “newly introduced regulatory requirements” that have resulted in design changes. One thing that hasn’t changed, he added, is the plan to use the three abandoned river piers that can be seen on both the north and south banks of the White River.