Foothills Trail pedestrian bridge passes final county council hurdle

Construction can begin as soon as August.

The King County Council has taken one step closer to helping Enumclaw and Buckley connect the Foothills Trail over the White River.

Two ordinances were passed during the council’s June 28 meeting, both of which will allow King County to construct a soon-to-be-built pedestrian bridge and maintain it for the next 30 years.

“Today we have made a significant step forward into closing the 1.5-mile gap in the Foothills Trail and connecting folks across Pierce and King County lines,” King County Council member Reagan Dunn, who co-sponsored the bills, said in a press release. “I could not be more proud to have supported this project for many years now, and of the collaboration that took place so that our interconnected communities will be able to enjoy this trail system for decades to come.”

With the red tape officially out of the way, construction could begin as soon as August, with the hope of the bridge being completed by the end of 2023 (the county’s previous estimate from last spring was the start of 2024).

Construction is estimated to cost $13.5 million. The vast majority of those funds — $10 million — comes from King County Park Levy revenue and an emergency contingency fund. The rest was provided by the State Resource Conservation Office’s Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, Pierce County, the city of Buckley, and the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition.

Bidding on the project is expected to open July 14; construction will involve two separate contracts.

The county estimates $20,000 a year for maintenance, according to county spokesperson Doug Williams.

Once the bridge is complete, the Foothills Trail will run 30 miles in Pierce County and southern King County, from Enumclaw through Buckley, South Prairie, Orting, Bonney Lake, and into Puyallup.

The bridge will not only provide a walking and biking trail for recreation, but another avenue for emergency vehicles to cross the White River should the main bridge between the cities be shut down or inaccessible to traffic.

“The new White River Bridge on the Foothills Trail will connect the pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists between two great counties,” said Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro in a press release. “Enumclaw is excited to see the bridge construction begin as all citizens see this as a wonderful extension to outdoor exercise and fun.”

“Today’s action by King County was another step towards realizing a multiyear dream of connecting the two trail segments and the communities of Buckley and Enumclaw,” Buckley Mayor Beau Burkett said in the same release. “Completion of the linkage over the White River will provide huge recreational benefits to the community as well as provide a secondary emergency access. Buckley is proud to be a partner in this collaborative effort.”

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