People already are rolling and strolling on 1¼-miles of Snohomish County’s North Creek Regional Trail between Bothell and Mill Creek, likely to open this summer.
It’s not officially open and contractors are still finishing some work, but pavement and markings are laid.
The project has been in the works for over a decade.
“We’re excited about the improvement,” Snohomish County engineering services design manager Charlie Green said.
The county’s in-progress segment connects to North Creek Park, where there’s already a trail north through Mill Creek to McCollum Pioneer Park. To the south, trail users can cross the intersection of 208th Street SE and Filbert Road toward Centennial Park, where Bothell completed a section.
County and regional leaders see North Creek Trail as a recreational and transportation benefit. People can use it for a workout or to get around, away from car-filled roads.
“There’s a big gap on the map between Bothell and Mill Creek,” Leafline Trails Coalition project manager Claire Martini said. “This North Creek Trail helps to connect not only the local community immediately adjacent to this long-planned trail, but it really helps to fill gaps to a regional trail network.”
Statewide, trails of all kinds contribute an estimated $8.2 billion to the economy, according to studies from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
But the county’s 2.42-miles trail segment, estimated to cost nearly $22.8 million, is years from being finished.
Breaking it into phases helps the county budget for the work and tackle distinctly challenging parts of it.
Phase 1 generally follows the roadway along Filbert Drive, Winesap Road and Sprague Drive SE.
Phase 2 is 0.78 mile from North Creek Park through a greenway to 192nd Street SE and Waxen Road. That section is estimated cost is $7.6 million.
Phase 3, the last middle section, is a 0.4-mile boardwalk between 20 and 40 feet over the ground. That height is needed to traverse a steep hilly forested section and cross the namesake North Creek and its wetlands.
“Looking out over North Creek, you’ll feel like you’re up in the trees,” Snohomish County engineer Doug McCormick said.
The county started the first phase last year. Contractor crews began on the south end of it, just north of Bothell city limits, and are working their way along Filbert Drive toward Winesap Road at Sprague Drive SE.
That section runs through some neighborhoods.
Despite eventually being surrounded by forest or grass, the paved path is similar to the Interurban Trail. Horses aren’t allowed on North Creek Trail, but bikes, rollerskates, scooters, skateboards, sneakers, walkers and wheelchairs are welcome.
Most of the county’s section will be 12 feet wide, enough room for people to comfortably pass in opposite directions, or for someone to overtake a slower user.
“Trail etiquette applies,” McCormick said.
Snohomish County doesn’t plan to install new bathrooms or drinking fountains. Both can be found on either end of its trail segments at Centennial and North Creek parks.
There will be parking in addition to existing on-street parking near the trail. On the south end there will be 12 parking spots, another 17 along Winesap Road, and about 15 spots at its north end, McCormick said.
“Somebody could park essentially (anywhere) along the route and go north or south,” he said.
People could take a Community Transit bus to reach the trail as well.
County staff are pursuing a Puget Sound Regional Council grant for the second phase. If it’s awarded, construction could begin in 2025. Phase 3 work is farther out, but county staff are hopeful the federal infrastructure act could yield money for the boardwalk.
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