The paved trail today stretches 29 miles from Snohomish to the Skagit County line, passing through Lake Stevens, Marysville and Arlington, mostly along old rail corridors.
In a letter to the Snohomish County Council and County Executive John Lovick, Stanwood Mayor Leonard Kelley and Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert state that building a connecting trail between Stanwood and Arlington would help “open up” north Snohomish County to more recreational opportunity and business development.
“We have one shore-level trail and I'm just in awe and amazed in how many people use that trail,” Kelley said, referring to the half-mile perimeter trail in Heritage Park.
While a trail extension would be good for the business climate, it would be giving Stanwood's residents something they've been asking for years: a dedicated safe place to walk and ride, Kelley said.
Most of Stanwood's rural roads don't have sidewalks, much less bike lanes. “There's very few places in this area where I would feel safe riding my bike,” Kelley said.
The two cities might need to wait in line. The city of Monroe has already made a pitch to the county about extending the trail eastward from Snohomish.
And the county last year bought an old rail corridor between Snohomish and Woodinville. One of the reasons for that purchase was to provide a connection to the King County trail system.
Tom Teigen, director of Snohomish County Parks and Recreation, said that even though a sale agreement for the 12-mile corridor has been signed, the deal is still not finalized, and it could take eight years or more to plan, design and build that trail segment.
On the list of possible additions to the Centennial Trail, the southern leg is the piece that is furthest along in the planning process.
That doesn't diminish Teigen's enthusiasm for building more trails.
“Obviously we see ourselves as being an important piece of connection between the cities,” Teigen said.
Extensions to Monroe and Stanwood are among other possible trails and links in a 2012 draft plan for trails, which hasn't been approved by the County Council.
Those extensions would be even farther in the future than the southern leg extension.
Kelley said he hasn't received an official response from the county but knows it will take time to get the process started.
“Right now we're just trying to create some awareness and generate some interest,” he said. “It's new for us.”
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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