Regular users of the Foothills Trail – and the section between Buckley and South Prairie in particular – might be wondering when they’ll again be able to walk that scenic ribbon of pavement.
The answer, courtesy of Pierce County Parks, is simple: they’re not quite sure.
The problem is with a relatively new pin-pile bridge that was built to alleviate muddy conditions. The bridge, essentially a raised boardwalk, was damaged by a falling tree in early August. Since that time, the trail has been closed on either side of the damaged portion, prohibiting walkers, joggers, skaters and equestrians from making the Buckley-to-South Prairie trek.
Apparently that hasn’t stopped die-hard trail fans. There are reports of some who climb over or around the barricades and continue on their way.
As of last week, here’s where things stand, according to Brianne Blackburn, the trails coordinator with Pierce County Parks.
“Bridge engineering staff inspected the damage and determined that the beams that provide fundamental support for the bridge would need to be replaced,” Blackburn said in an emailed reply to the Courier-Herald.
Replacement supports have been ordered, she said, and are expected to arrive by mid-October. In the interim, Blackburn wrote, staff from the Parks Department and engineers have been working on plans for permanent repairs.
Getting the trail open could come quicker, she said, as staff has looked at temporary solutions that would allow for pedestrian use until the permanent repairs are made.
But, she wrote, “Even a temporary solution is substantial, due to damaged supports underneath.”
The department, she said, “is moving as fast as possible to get that section safely opened.”