Lynnwood wants to link up city’s existing paths into one trail

LYNNWOOD — A map of Lynnwood shows a city sliced by highways into sections.

Lynn Sordel and Jared Bond kept looking at that map. How could they better connect those sections?

Light rail is coming to Lynnwood, and they have maybe a decade to get the city ready. Transit officials estimate that at least 20,000 daily travelers will converge on the city to make use of the rail stop. They will need to be able to bike and walk and otherwise move around town. Cars won’t do.

What about a trail? The idea is germinating.

The proposed trail, tentatively called “Center to Sound,” would connect City Center, at I-5 and 196th Street SW, with the Meadowdale Beach Park trail leading to Puget Sound. For the most part, the new trail would follow Scriber Creek and link up existing ribbons of asphalt. They’re looking at a total distance of about four miles.

Sordel, the parks director, imagines the trail as a spine through Lynnwood, “a place to go or get somewhere,” he said. He managed the creation of a similar trail at his previous job in Florida.

“Consistently we’re hearing from our community that it’s important to be able to get around,” he said. “If we can create something like that, we have done something huge.”

Jared Bond, as the city’s environmental and surface water supervisor, helps manage flooding and drainage. He’d like the trail to allow more public access to the city’s streams and wetlands.

Mayor Nicola Smith and her husband, Del, took a tour of existing sections of the trail in May. Congressman Rick Larsen got his own brief tour during a stop in the city Tuesday.

In last month’s State of the City address, Smith called the completed trail “a future dream.”

“It’s such a great idea, I want to give it feet,” she said in a recent interview.

The mayor assigned a photography team — her husband and two family friends — to document the missing links in the trail. She sees the project as becoming a safe, pretty connection between neighborhoods, parks and schools.

“There’s a lot of community rallying around that,” Smith said. “This is what our community wants.”

The next step will be commissioning a study to lay out options for the exact trail path and to determine whether the project is possible.

The city already owns property north and south of the beach park, Sordel said, including the recent acquisition of 13 acres known as Seabrook Heights.

A few years ago, REI employee volunteers created a primitive path from the bottom of Lund’s Gulch that nearly reaches the county-owned Meadowdale Beach trail, Sordel said. That path would become part of the new trail.

The trail could provide a key transportation link for folks in the Meadowdale area and other parts of the city west of Highway 99, Sordel said. Crossing Highway 99, particularly in and between Lynnwood and Everett, is one of the most dangerous choices for pedestrians, according to accident data. A pedestrian bridge is on the table as part of the Center to Sound plan.

“It gets people moving and keeps them moving, safely,” Sordel said.

The trail also would go hand in hand with efforts to combat the flooding problems along Scriber Creek, Bond said. An ongoing study of Scriber Creek got Bond thinking.

The city owns patches of land throughout the creek’s corridor, and has an eye on future buyouts or easements for low-lying, flood-prone properties. Allowing access to those areas could give people a sense of stewardship over streams and wetlands, Bond said.

“I don’t want to just put a fence up and keep people out,” he said.

If the city decides to move ahead with the project, Bond and Sordel plan to pursue grant funding. The combined transportation and environmental aspects of the project should give them an edge, they said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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