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Monday, November 2, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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5-Mile Bike, Walk Trail Closer To Reality

By 1994, workers will be able to commute via 14 miles of continuous bicycle and pedestrian paths running from north Mountlake Terrace to South Everett.

Once past the Everett Mall, they'll only need a quick detour on city streets to reach another two-mile commuter trail along the Snohomish River, leading toward downtown Everett's job center.

The state Department of Transportation last week awarded more than $8 million in federal money for bicycle and pedestrian projects, including $1.6 million for a Snohomish County and Everett portion of the Interurban Trail and $400,000 for Everett's river trail.

Everett Mayor Pete Kinch has dubbed the two-mile river trail as the "Centennial River Walk" in honor of the city's 100-year birthday next year. Kinch says the trail is a key element in his dream of developing city-owned riverfront property into a thriving commercial and recreational center.

"We're excited," said Ken Housden, city public-works director. "We're going ahead and putting the project together. . . . It's a key piece for us."

The city hopes to begin construction next fall, Housden said. The 10-foot-wide paved trail will be routed primarily along riverfront dikes between the Rotary Park boat launch, near the city's Lowell neighborhood, north to 36th Street. The city wants to eventually extend the trail around the north end of the city and back down to the Everett Marina.

"You can bet money we'll be back asking for additional money for the remainder of the trail," Housden said.

Last week's appropriations decisions closely mirrored requests made to the transportation department by the Puget Sound Regional Council. Of 20 projects recommended by the council, 19 made it onto the final list for funding through the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. The act is intended to reduce dependence upon automobiles.

Money was virtually assured for Snohomish County's link in the Interurban Trail, to run roughly between the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood and the Everett Mall, ending near the Paine Field industrial complex. The regional council ranked it third on its priority list.

The trail's southern end will connect with a $964,000 section of the Interurban now being engineered by the city of Lynnwood. That trail segment will begin at Alderwood Mall Boulevard at Maple Road and continue south to the Lake Ballinger area in Mountlake Terrace.

The city hopes to have that 3.8-mile trail finished by this time next year, said Kathy Johnson, a Lynnwood parks planner. Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace began talking about the project in 1983, and applied three times for state matching money. Early this summer, the state finally approved the project, she said.

The Interurban Trail follows the old Pacific Northwest Traction trolley right of way, Johnson said. The trolley ran between Seattle and Bellingham from 1910 to 1930, she said.

Motorists on Interstate 5 can easily see the future bicycle route - it's under the power lines that parallel the highway. Negotiations are under way with the Snohomish County Public Utilities District, which owns the land, for public easements.

Coming from the south, the trail will begin on the west side of I-5, cross over the freeway at Maple Road north of the Alderwood Mall, continue along the east side of I-5 to 128th Street, then cross over to the west side again.

Although Arthur Wright is project manager for Snohomish County's portion of the Interurban, he takes a personal interest in the trail. During the summer, Wright rides his bicycle on city streets from his Martha Lake home to his county office in downtown Everett.

He figures the new trail will shave 15 minutes off his bicycle commute, which now takes about 45 minutes. He'll ride his bike up 164th Street Southwest, then turn right just before the highway. The trail will take him to Casino Road, which eventually turns into Colby Avenue, one of Everett's main downtown arterials. "It'll provide a good commuter connection so people can actually commute by bicycle," Wright said. "It gives people an opportunity to get out of their cars."

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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