MONROE — While only 1,200 feet long, a new path going up along U.S. 2 will make a big difference for Monroe residents and avid cyclists like Rosie Tatel.
The project, six years in the making, will construct a multi-use path on the north side of the highway next to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds. Construction could start this fall after the Monroe City Council awarded a $1.4 million contract to Taylor’s Excavators on Tuesday.
The 12-foot-wide trail, which will be separated from vehicles, will stretch from 179th Avenue SE to the North Kelsey Street shopping area. The project aims to offer a safe route for pedestrians, cyclists and power wheelchairs traveling along the same route as the busy highway.
Tatel, 64, almost exclusively uses a bicycle to get around. She doesn’t have a driver’s license and doesn’t like to rely on her husband Harvey for rides. Plus, she likes the exercise.
With her bicycle equipped with two baskets, she travels from her home near the EvergreenHealth Monroe Medical Center to nearby shops. She sometimes bicycles through the fairgrounds, but the gates are often closed. She avoids riding on the highway’s narrow shoulder due to bad drivers.
“I was getting more cautious over the years,” she said.
Bicycle safety is personal for Tatel. Her first husband Barry Stankevich died in a bicycle accident in 1993 on Highway 203.
Tatel brought her safety concerns about the U.S. 2 route to the city in 2016, said Kim Klinkers, senior engineer with the city of Monroe. Work on a fix began the following year.
The Puget Sound Regional Council awarded federal grants for design in 2020 and construction in 2022, totaling about $545,000. After the project came in over-budget, the city went back to look for more funding. In the past two weeks, the city was awarded a $798,000 federal grant through the state Department of Transportation, Klinkers said.
The total project costs about $1.8 million, according to the city. The remaining balance, about $422,000, will be paid with the city’s transportation impact fee and real estate excise tax revenue.
Klinkers anticipates construction could start in mid-September after the Evergreen State Fair.
The project will also add new fencing, lighting, trees and landscaping, a pedestrian bridge and a marked crosswalk at Cascade View Drive.
“We want it to be inviting and safe,” Klinkers said.
As for Tatel, she said the new pathway will be an upgrade. However, she has more than a few more ideas for future safety improvements for cyclists.