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TE Grant Kicks Off Rail-with-Trail Project in Washington State

Construction is now under way on the first segment of the 33-mile Chelatchie Prairie Rail with Trail, just east of the city of Battle Ground in southern Washington.

The initial one-mile segment will run from the entrance road inside Battle Ground Lake State Park southwest along the county-owned railroad tracks to Washington State Department of Natural Resources land. The new trail will be 10-feet wide and paved.

In April the Board of Clark County Commissioners awarded a $406,800 contract to a local construction firm for clearing, excavation and grading, concrete and asphalt paving, erosion control, signing, landscaping and other work. When that work is completed, local equestrian and hiking groups plan to use volunteers to build an adjacent soft surface trail. It is hoped the trail will open to the public later this year.

The total cost of this first segment, including design, land, construction and inspection, is $728,600, more than half of which was provided by a grant from the federal Transportation Enhancements program.

Clark County originally planned to build a 2.8-mile trail, connecting Battle Ground Lake State Park with Fairgrounds Park in Battle Ground. However, wetlands, steep slopes and sensitive wildlife habitat made that project more expensive than originally estimated, so it has been scaled back to stay within the original budget. County officials will continue to apply for grants, pursue partnerships and explore ways to build future sections of the entire 33-mile trail.

The Chelatchie Prairie Rail with Trail Corridor Study was approved by the county in 2008 after extensive public input. The planned trail will improve pedestrian safety and enhance recreation.

The start of work on the Chelatchie Prairie Trail is the latest in a series of good news for trail users and advocates in the region.

∙ The 2010 Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Use Snapshot showed that overall bicycle and pedestrian usage of area trails continues to increase.

∙ Late last year Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation partnered with health insurer Kaiser Permanente and local public land managers to publish a free trails map. It is hoped the map, which is available at community locations all throughout Clark County, will improve access to, and awareness of, local trails in the area.

∙ It was recently announced that the city of Vancouver, Wash., will host the 2012 Washington State Trails Coalition Conference, an interactive forum centering on protecting, promoting and enhancing a statewide system of trails.

For more information on trails activity in Clark County, contact Regional Trail Planner Lisa Goorjian at Lisa.Goorjian@cityofvancouver.us.  

Photo: The Chelatchie Prairie Trail isn't open yet, but trail activity in the Vancouver area is booming; courtesy of Lisa Goorijian. 

Posted Fri, Jul 8 2011 1:00 PM by Jake Lynch

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