Fennel Creek Trail gets more grant funds

Nearly $2.2 million will be going to finish section 2B, though construction isn’t expected to start for a few years.

Additional funds are looking to roll in to help Bonney Lake construct more of the Fennel Creek Trail.

In a Jan. 4 phone interview with the city’s Special Project Manager Gary Leaf, it was confirmed the city is likely to get more than $2 million in grants from the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Washington State Department of Transportation to construct segment 2B of the trail, meaning that section “will be 100 percent grant-funded,” Leaf said.

The city was aware of the federally-funded Puget Sound Regional Council grant money back in September 2018, but WSDOT only just announced Bonney Lake was one of the city it’s funding through the department’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Program last December.

“We are very pleased to hear that we received this most recent grant to continue our work on the Fennel Creek Trail,” said city Public Services Director John Vodopich. “Gary Leaf has put forth a tremendous amount of time and effort in applying for grants. His success is certainly impressive.”

Before this, Leaf attempted to get grants for segment 2B twice, and failed both times.

“We were asking for too much money. So I split it in half between two different granting agencies and I gambled that we would get them both,” he said. “A highly unlikely scenario, but hey, I’ll take it.”

Segment 2B of the Fennel Creek Trail is roughly two-thirds a mile long, and stretches from Angeline Road and Sewer Lift Station 17 and pushes east into the old WSU Forest, where it turns north and runs parellel to 192nd Avenue East until it hits the Sumner-Buckley Highway.

This section requires just over $2 million to complete “because it’s all wetlands in there,” Leaf said, adding that whoever gets the bid for the project will have to construct a bridge and more than a few boardwalks. “Originally we were looking at doing a tunnel through there, but talk about expensive.”

The tunnel Leaf mentioned would have been constructed about 400 or 500 feet east of Angeline Road underneath SR 410, but was estimated to cost more than $2 million on its own.

“We applied for a grant, and the granting agencies just laughed at it,” he said.

It was after the tunnel option was nixed that the city looked at running the Fennel Creek Trail west through a neighborhood on 95th Street East, then north on Angeline until the sewer lift station, and then head back east. However, the neighborhood complained to Sen. Phil Fortunato, who proposed a different route so the trail that wouldn’t go through the neighborhood.

It was announced last May Fortunato found $500,000 in the state budget to help offset the additional cost the city would have had to shoulder for his proposed route.

But while design for segment 2B is “98 percent done,” and permitting should be finished “a couple months” design is wrapped up, construction isn’t likely to start until October 2020, Leaf said, because the PSRC grant isn’t accessible until then.

If the city can finish design and permitting and work with WSDOT to use some of their grant to secure a bid, the city “could hit the ground running” that fall and complete segment 2B construction in 12 to 18 months, Leaf continued, adding that segment 2A should also be complete around January 2020.

If this can be managed, this means trail-users could walk from Mountain View Middle School, Bonney Lake High School, and Victor Falls Elementary, as well as the various neighborhoods in that area, all the way to Sumner-Buckley Highway by fall 2021 or spring 2022.

An additional hurdle is that the WSDOT grant may not get approved by the state Legislature when they vote on their capital budget this spring. Leaf said he fully expects the Legislature to do so, but added there’s a “one-in-a-million” chance things go awry, like when lawmakers failed to pass a capital budget spring 2017.

In total, the Fennel Creek Trail is expected to cost $9.5 million.

Fennel Creek Trail gets more grant funds