Residents in East Pierce County soon will be able to walk or ride bicycles for miles through Sumner as a long-awaited trail project nears completion.
The city’s so-called Urban to Mountain system eventually will join the Foothills and Interurban trails that span from Seattle to Mount Rainier, completing a missing link to about 70 miles of regional trails in Pierce and King counties.
But for now, four sections of the trail through Sumner city limits are pegged for completion this summer. A combination of city and private projects, they will finish a stretch of about 4 miles from the state Route 410 interchange just south of Sumner to Eighth Street on the north end.
Those sections also will connect the city to the 25-mile regional Foothills Trail, which runs through Puyallup and Orting toward Mount Rainier.
Associate city engineer Ted Hill said the city will work on constructing one section and paving another. That work pairs with two mid-trail portions that are part of private projects to be completed by developers around the same time, he said.
In addition, Sumner has secured federal funding for another missing link on the city’s north side that’s expected to be built in the next few years as part of the Stewart Road bridge replacement. City engineer Mike Dahlem has said the project awaits $14 million in additional funding.
Together, all the segments will complete a project the city has been working on for more than 13 years.
Sumner city spokeswoman Carmen Palmer said the trail will fulfill public desire for a wide range of activities, including exercise and leisure.
“A lot of people have repeatedly asked for trails to be complete, and I think that’s because the trails do so many different things at once,” she said.
When the whole project is done, the city will have paid for about half of the 6-mile Urban to Mountain trail, supplementing the rest with private funding, as well as state and federal grants, Hill said.
Connecting Sumner to the Interurban Trail on the north end hinges on completion of trail plans in the city of Pacific, Hill said.
The trail currently ends at Third Avenue Southwest in Pacific, according to King County’s website. Officials in Pacific could not be reached to explain their plans for the trail.
Expanding the regional trail network is a long-fought battle in East Pierce County.
In 2010, Edgewood, Milton, Pacific and Sumner joined forces in an unsuccessful attempt to win $30 million in grants to complete their trails. It was Sumner’s second failed attempt, after a solo effort to secure $19 million in federal money in 2009.
Sumner continues to support the other cities, Hill said, despite moving forward independently. He said Sumner’s project has been designed with regional goals in mind.
In addition to the remaining Stewart Road bridge span, a section of trail on Fryar Avenue awaits completion. It already has bike lanes and sidewalks, and Hill said it is walkable. But it doesn’t meet trail criteria, such as for width.
Hill said the earliest estimate for completion of the entire trail project in Sumner, including the Stewart Road span and the temporary link on Fryar, is 2015. An exact timeline is unknown because funding is uncertain.
But for now, he said, the bulk of the project is nearing completion this summer and will be ready for use by bicyclists, pedestrians and others.
“We will have the artery of the trail system done,” he said.
The city also is planning maintenance and branding as completion nears, including a possible “Adopt a Trail” program and collecting public feedback for an official trail name, which could replace Urban to Mountain.