Scenic portion of Olympic Discovery Trail shored up for winter

SEQUIM — One of the Olympic Discovery Trail’s many picturesque legs is shored up just in time for storm season.

The section of the bicycling-hiking-equestrian trail just east of Whitefeather Way wasn’t looking too secure earlier this year.

City Engineer Bill Bullock, also Sequim’s interim public works director, noticed slope failures along the trail’s north side.

Sequim paid $528,344 last year to Parametrix of Bremerton and Lakeside Industries of Port Angeles to design and build the stretch of trail, which boasts steep slopes and views of Sequim Bay.

Although state and federal grants paid most, city Finance Director Karen Goschen said Sequim was re¬­ quired to make a 13.5 percent match.

Now the city has poured another $9,000 onto the Whitefeather leg, in the form of nine truckloads of rock.

After gullies formed north of the pavement last winter, Bullock began looking into whether Parametrix or Lakeside should pay to bolster the trail and prevent erosion under pounding autumn and winter rains.

Back in May, the City Council held closed sessions to discuss what it termed “potential litigation” concerning the Discovery Trail, but Bullock never indicated whom might be the target of a lawsuit.

Section fixed

Then, at the end of Monday morning’s City Council study session, City Attorney Craig Ritchie announced that the Whitefeather section is fixed.

“It’s gorgeous,” Ritchie said of the trail, which now has rocks covering patches of its northern slope.

Ritchie showed the council “before” pictures of the gullies, beside “after” shots of the gray rocks.

The rocks and straw were strewn by Lakeside crews last week, said Jeff Edwards, the Sequim Public Works and Planning office manager.

Ritchie, meanwhile, said neither Parametrix nor Lakeside was tapped for the cost of the work.

The attorney wouldn’t say if the slope problems were anyone’s fault.

He did say that the city paid for the rock, while Lakeside covered the labor.

“They stand behind their stuff,” Ritchie added.

No more barricades

The concrete barricades at the entrance to the Whitefeather section are gone now, and on Monday afternoon several cyclists and dog-walkers came out for a brisk trip along the woodsy stretch.

A yellow sign near the rock-bolstered section warns of slope defects, and instructs users to stay on the pavement.

Last summer, Clallam County paved another section of trail, connecting the Whitefeather Way segment to Blyn and Sequim Bay State Park.

So trail users have a lengthened stretch to travel, from Blyn to Whitefeather, then across the Johnson Creek trestle to head toward Carrie Blake Park.

But once they clear the park section, they’ll find the trail peters out in eastern Sequim.

For years, the City Council has struggled to find a place to link the pedestrian-cycling pathway; the latest proposal extends it from Carrie Blake Park’s edge along East Spruce Street to Sunnyside Avenue, then Fir Street to Sequim Avenue.

The council has yet to give that stretch its final blessing, and if and when the members find a way to close the trail gap, they will have to seek grants to pay for construction.

Over the past nine years, Sequim — with help from federal and state monies — has invested more than $1.39 million into the Discovery Trail sections within the city.

________

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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