Snohomish County Trail-System Backers Look To D.C.
Supporters of a Snohomish County regional trail system hope Uncle Sam will get an itch to stroll through the countryside sometime soon.
And if the itch comes around federal budget time, so much the better.
The proposed trail system would allow joggers, bikers and other non-motorized travelers to go from Arlington to Snohomish - and perhaps from Woodinville to Monroe and on to Duvall - on an old Burlington Northern right of way.
The county last year received a $1.1 million pledge from the state to take the first step - acquiring a 17.5-mile stretch between Arlington and Snohomish. That money must be matched by county or private donations. But even before the county considers its own contribution, help looms from the federal government.
Trail-system money might be available from the federal Rivers and Trails Program or the Land and Water Conservation Act, said Bob Karotko, regional recreation chief for the National Park Service in Seattle.
The Park Service considers the 17.5-mile ``Centennial Trail'' a project of national significance and will vouch for the trail if a request is made for federal financing, he said.
``It's a very good project - one we've been pleased to work with,'' he said. ``From a regional as well as national perspective . . . it has a lot of support from us.''
With that kind of backing from the Park Service, a request for financing almost certainly will be made by members of the state's congressional delegation, said Bruce Agnew, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Miller, R-Seattle. ``The prognosis for (federal help) is actually pretty good,'' he said.
Miller, Karotko, state legislators and members of the Snohomish-Arlington Trail Coalition toured the area last week, hoping to combine forces to make the trail a reality.
Miller and others are interested not only in the Centennial Trail, but in a route along Highway 522 between Woodinville and Monroe, then along Highway 503 to Duvall, where the trail could link with King County's trail system, Agnew said.
It would cost an estimated $12.5 million to purchase and develop that 44-mile ``Cadillac'' trail system, Agnew said.
Miller has contacted Burlington Northern officials, urging them not to sell the rights of way until local, state and federal officials have time to pool their resources, Agnew said.
In addition, Miller will ask U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, to use his position on the House Appropriations Committee to create some instant trail financing, Agnew said.
``It looks good,'' he said. ``If the county makes the first move (by matching the state grant), all these things might fall in place.''
Park Service officials estimate the Centennial Trail portion would cost about $5.5 million to acquire and develop.
``We'll shoot for the moon on this,'' Agnew said, adding that receiving even half the $12 million needed for the total trail system would be more than enough to secure rights of way for all 44 miles.
Karotko acknowledged that other obstacles remain, including some landholders who don't want bicyclists and hikers traipsing near their homes.
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