$16 million grant to fund trail design in Kitsap, Clallam counties

Port Angeles named lead agency for project

PORT ANGLES — The City of Port Angeles, acting as the lead agency, has received a $16.13 million grant to design and plan a multi-use trail connecting Bainbridge Island to La Push.

The grant comes from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program established by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, in 2009.

Actual funding for construction will be sought after in the coming years.

The City of Port Angeles, along with 12 other jurisdictions from Kitsap County up to Clallam County, applied for this grant back in February with the City of Port Angeles acting as the lead agency on the grant application and accepting the funds.

“I was thrilled to hear from Senator Murray,” Port Angeles Mayor Kate Dexter said. “The City of Port Angeles is honored to be the lead agency on this amazing collaboration, which will benefit the entire region and beyond. We look forward to working with our partners to complete this very exciting project.”

Other agencies include Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties; the cities of Bainbridge Island, Forks, Port Townsend, Poulsbo and Sequim; the Quileute and Suquamish tribes; the Port of Port Townsend and the state Department of Transportation.

The grant will fund the planning and design of 34 multi-use trail segments across both the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas as part of the Puget Sound to Pacific Initiative (PS2P).

The PS2P initiative aims to complete a more than 200-mile network of trails that will connect the North Olympic Peninsula’s Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) to the Sound to Olympic Trail beginning on Bainbridge Island and extending all the way to La Push.

The trail would include access points at the Kingston and Port Townsend ferry terminals and serve as the western end of the more than 3,400-mile Great American Rail Trail.

“The development of our Olympic Discovery Trail system thus far has necessitated strong leadership and great partnerships,” Port Angeles City Manager Nathan West said.

“Those responsible for its success have demonstrated hard work, perseverance, and taking action with courage. This grant opportunity broadens our joint efforts and heightens the success of a regional trail system that will benefit residents and visitors for generations to come.”

Specifically, the funds from this grant will address about 100 miles of gaps in the trail system as well as make improvements to safety along existing trails.

One of the largest gaps in the trail system is one that spans the Hood Canal Bridge, which would connect the Sound to the Olympics Trail to the ODT and is under the jurisdiction of Jefferson County to determine where the two trails will connect.

“In a notable instance here on the Peninsula is the big question of how is this trail, when it comes across Hood Canal Bridge, how is going to connect to the Olympic Discovery Trail?” said Jeff Bohman, president of the Peninsula Trails Coalition.

Bohman said there has been some preliminary work and assessment done to determine what kind of trail route could be developed, but there has not been a definitive study done as of yet.

Other large gaps in the project include developing an ODT trail connection between the Elwha River and Joyce, Bohman said.

“We have some conceptual ideas and some information about property ownership that leads us to think that one or another sort of alignment might make the most sense, but those again are very informal assessments,” he said.

A third major project to fill will be the gap between Sappho and Forks.

“That’s where the trail will then take off along Highway 110 out to La Push,” Bohman said. “That whole piece from Sappho to 101/110 junction is also a big gap, and I would say the options there are more vague in conception than others.”

Overall, Bohman is pleased with the grant that will aid in the planning and design of these major gaps.

“This award is fantastic,” Bohman said. “Not only will it benefit Port Angeles and the Olympic Discovery Trail, it’s also a tremendous opportunity for agencies from across three counties to work together on a nationally significant project.”

Murray and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, wrote a letter in support of the project to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

“This investment in the Puget Sound to Pacific trail will help connect workers to jobs, local residents to essential services, and folks looking for recreation to some of our region’s natural treasures,” Kilmer said. “Having the federal government provide this grant funding means we will see improved trail connectivity and better safety without the cost being borne entirely by taxpayers in our neck of the woods. That’s a huge win for our region.”

“This grant is going to make a huge difference in filling in the gaps on the trails connecting communities from the Puget Sound all the way to the Pacific Coast,” Murray said. “These trails are going to offer non-motorized access to Olympic National Park for the communities stretching from La Push to Bainbridge Island, and for all the tourists traveling in between — it’s great news for Puget Sound.”

According to Murray’s office, Washington was awarded the most RAISE grants of any state this year and received the most in total funding.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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