OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Steve Gray, Clallam County Transportation Program manager, and Jeff Bohman, Peninsula Trails Coalition president, discussed the future of the Olympic Discovery Trail during the Spruce Railroad Trail dedication.
When complete and open to the public, the Spruce Railroad Trail will become a segment along the proposed 134-mile Olympic Discovery Trail, which will span the North Olympic Peninsula from south of Port Townsend to La Push.
Gray said Thursday at the dedication that about 60-percent of the Olympic Discovery Trail was complete.
“Our partnership with Olympic National Park won’t stop with this,” Gray said. “The county completed and paved this spring, a 1.6-mile segment from Gossett Road to Waterline Road, which is just before connecting to the Spruce Railroad Trail.
“Our next goal is to take the Waterline Road connector, the logging road which connects from state Highway 112 all the way to East Beach Road, and get that paved, widened and improved,” Gray added.
Work also remains to connect the trail from Sappho to Forks and La Push.
Gray said $5 million in funding from the Federal Lands Access Program has been awarded to the county for much of the work from the U.S. Highway 101/state Highway 110 intersection out to La Push while a section from Forks’ Calawah River Park to the 101/110 intersection also has received a $450,000 contribution from the Lloyd J. Allen Charitable Trust. The latter also appears likely to earn $300,000 in state Recreation and Conservation Office funding.
Bohman, who previously worked for the National Park Service, applauded the agency for its forward-thinking approach to the project.
“It’s not an easy thing for a preeminent conservation organization like the National Park Service to find its way clear to work out the upgrade of a railroad, single-track trail into this multi-modal, handicap-accessible and safe route to get pedestrian and bicycle travel off of Highway 101,” Bohman said.
“We’ve been cheerleading all along the way and we will continue to do so.”
Bohman also indirectly pointed out the economic benefits of trail construction, including the North Olympic Marathon and a number of other events that utilize the trail, bringing visitors and their wallets to the Peninsula.
“Steve mentioned the piece out from Forks to La Push was ranked No. 1 [for funding by the state Recreation and Conservation Office], a piece of trail we are working on south of Port Townsend to Discovery Bay was ranked fifth and another segment, a link to the trail, part of the corridor between Olympic National Park’s Visitor Center and the Olympic Discovery Trail corridor, came in seventh,” Bohman said.
“Three ODT-related projects, ranked first, fifth and seventh, out of 29 projects. We know there is incredible — Peninsula-wide and beyond — momentum to get this done. Great things are coming to Forks and La Push. We are going to be there and are looking forward to a long relationship with the park to care for this incredible trail.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.