By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — The North Creek boardwalk floats on a marsh, giving visitors an up-close encounter with nature smack dab in the middle of suburbia.
In recent years, the encounters have sometimes been too close. The aging pontoons allowed the wooden planks to sag into the water. Nature watchers wound up with cold, wet feet.
Those annoyances should be over soon, thanks to work this winter to replace 1,600 feet of boardwalk decking and the plastic foam floats underneath.
“We know the folks in Mill Creek will miss the opportunity to get soaking wet on the boardwalk, but we’re looking forward to more and more people utilizing (it),” county parks director Tom Teigen told the County Council last month.
The North Creek boardwalk upgrade has been under discussion for about eight years, according to Teigen. “To finally make that happen and get it done was really exciting,” he said.
The boardwalk stretches about three-quarters of a mile through a wetland just west of the Bothell-Everett Highway, south of Mill Creek. It gives bird-watchers a great perch. At the same time, the wetland plays an important role controlling floodwaters.
The county provides public access from 183rd Street SE.
The county closed the boardwalk for about two months starting late last year so the work could move ahead. It’s expected to fully reopen in early April.
The ongoing work has involved 160 10-foot sections. New plastic foam floats under the decking are expected to last 20 years, Teigen said.
The improvements have cost the county about $180,000, deputy parks director Hal Gausman said. The money has come from taxes on real estate transactions and park mitigation fees. Waters &Wood of Auburn is performing the work and, as part of the contract with the county, the company is trying to minimize disturbances to the surrounding wetland.
The county earlier installed a test section about 80 feet long.
What’s been done so far should keep the main route out of the water, but some of the spur boardwalks still need work. Gausman said the county is seeking donations to help improve the floats and decking in those areas. The parks department also hopes to get help paying for improvements such as interpretive signs to turn it into more of an outdoor classroom.
“The next couple months when you go out there, it’s just crazy with the frogs and the amount of wildlife out there,” Gausman said.
When completed, the county’s section of the regional North Creek Trail will link with the boardwalk. The county asks people to walk their bicycles over the narrow and often slick wooden surface.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, email@example.com.