A new link to the Riverwalk Trail opened to the public last weekend in Puyallup, adding another quarter-mile stretch to the ongoing effort to connect the city to a regional trail network.
The new section joins the Riverwalk and Foothills trails at 33rd Street Southeast. It begins near Shaw Road and East Pioneer Avenue.
“This project is of high value to trail users in the community,” the city said in a news release.
Parks administrator Sarah Harris said the new trail section was funded solely through state grants. Construction began earlier this year.
Moving forward, the city is working to secure grant funds for a proposed pedestrian bridge over East Main Avenue. Harris said the structure would provide safe access at the state Route 410 interchange and connect Puyallup trails to those in Sumner.
Harris said another important missing link in Puyallup is a proposed section from the Veterans Park trailhead to the state Route 512 trailhead, located under a freeway overpass.
She said funding for both the 512 and 410 links is up in the air.
“It’s in our comprehensive plan to work to complete those sections, but it really ties to money,” Harris said.
Sumner and Puyallup are key missing links between the Foothills and Interurban trail systems, which will eventually join to complete 70 miles of trails spanning from Mount Rainier to Seattle.
Sumner is mostly done with its trails, but connecting the city to the Interurban Trail on the north end hinges on completion of trail plans in the city of Pacific. The trail currently ends at Third Avenue Southwest in Pacific, according to King County’s website.
Dixie Gatchel is an active member of the Rails to Trails Coalition and an enthusiastic advocate for Puyallup trails.
She said the new trail section will improve safety and visibility for bicyclists and pedestrians on what she called a “blind curve” on a narrow road.
Gatchel has worked for years with community groups and city officials to complete the trail network. She hopes the completed work will encourage residents to leave their cars at home, resulting in less traffic congestion.
“Little by little, we’re getting there,” she said of trails progress.
Despite uncertain funding for remaining sections in Puyallup, Harris said the city remains committed to completing its trails.
“Our trails are one of our highest priorities,” she said. “It’s definitely something that the citizens use and enjoy.”