Centennial Trail will soon be complete

After more than a quarter of a century of planning and work, the Centennial Trail is only months away from being finished.

Three gaps remain in the 29-mile-long trail from the Snohomish River to the Snohomish-Skagit county lines, but the county is working on two large sections north and south

of Arlington and Snohomish is getting ready to award a contract for the last gap in its city limits.

“I love it. It was only a matter of time,” said Beth Hill, chairwoman of the Centennial Trail Coalition of Snohomish County.

The coalition was one of the community groups that pushed for the trail in the late ’80s. Hill, 50, who lives in Marysville, was one in a group of women nicknamed “the Housewives from Hell” by former Snohomish County Executive Willis Tucker because they kept pressing to get the trail built, she said.

“We learned from previous groups to follow through,” Hill said. “If it’s not done, don’t quit until it’s done.”

The trail is considered the county’s largest park and officially opened in 1989, the state’s centennial year. It follows an abandoned railroad grade that was laid in the late 1800s.

The final four miles north to the Skagit County line, as well as the gap in the trail between 172nd Street NE in south Arlington and to 152nd Street NE in north Marysville, is scheduled to be complete by October.

On Wednesday, the city of Snohomish started accepting bids to complete a two-thirds of a mile gap in the trail.

The work would be between Bowen and Pine streets. The city also wants to install fences, do some landscaping and build missing sidewalks along the stretch.

The City Council is expected to choose a bidder at its Aug. 2 meeting, project manager Ann Stanton said. Work is expected to start Aug. 15 and to take more than three months.

The city expects the construction to cost between $800,000 and $875,000, which will be paid by federal funds, she said.

In addition to the trail being finished, the federal money includes funds for handrails for the Snohomish Library, parking space at the Snohomish Senior Center, and sidewalks over Third and Fourth streets.

To celebrate the beginning of work, a ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. July 29 outside the Snohomish Library, 311 Maple Ave.

City officials and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., are expected to attend. Refreshments will be served.

There were several factors that delayed the construction, including the lack of funding and problems with getting permits for work around wetlands, river or streams, said Russ Bosanko, division manager of contracts, capital projects and land management for Snohomish County.

Annually, tens of thousands of people use the Centennial Trail, he said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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