A few short speeches, followed by the tossing of four ceremonial scoops of dirt, launched a new era for the Foothills Trail.
The occasion was a groundbreaking ceremony at the southern end of Enumclaw’s existing trail and the happy news was the beginning of another mile of pavement. Crews have already started the land-clearing process that will see the Foothills Trail extended south from 252nd Avenue Southeast to a point near the White River.
The June 19 ceremony was attended by dignitaries from Enumclaw, Buckley, both King and Pierce counties and the Foothills Rails To Trails Coalition. All were present to tout the anticipated completion of one of the two “missing links” in the Foothills Trail system.
“We are focused not only on bridging gaps between communities within our county, but actually building bridges to connect with other trail systems,” said Katy Terry, acting director for King County Parks. “Completing this trail section will bring us to the northern shore of the White River at the King-Pierce county line. All that remains after we wrap up work on this stretch of trail is building the bridge across the White River. “
“Trails really bring people together,” said Roxanne Miles, director of the Pierce County Parks and Recreation. “These trails are used by everyone.”
Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson, who also serves on the Rails To Trails board of directors, harkened back to the early 1980s when the development of a regional trail system was just a dream. She also looked to the not-too-distant future, when a bridge across the White River hopefully joins trail sections in both counties.
“Over the next two years there’s going to be a lot of money spent here,” she said.
Also addressing the gathered crowd were Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro, Rails To Trails President Stuart Scheuerman and Christine Mahler of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.
ABOUT THE BRIDGE
With the mile-long segment of new trail opening for use in the fall, all attention will turn to getting a span across the White River
King County intends to close the gap between Enumclaw and Buckley by building a bridge over the White River, giving trail users scenic water crossings over the White River and Boise Creek.
But the money for such a bridge isn’t fully secured. Bridge funding has been identified in the county’s 2020-2025 Parks, Recreation, Trails, and Open Space Levy, but that levy won’t be voted on until Aug. 6. If the levy is defeated, the bridge future is uncertain.
Foothills Trail boosters are hoping for the best, dreaming of the days when a continuous, nonmotorized, multi-use paved pathway connects Enumclaw with Pierce County. The total ribbon of asphalt would be about 22 miles.
Completing the new bridge will also provide an alternative emergency route for pedestrians and vehicles in the event the SR 410 bridge at Buckley becomes impassable.