Gateway: News

Keeping Cushman Trail safe as it expands

The Russell family of Gig Harbor assemble at the Cushman Trailhead before getting a walk and ride in last Thursday.
The Russell family of Gig Harbor assemble at the Cushman Trailhead before getting a walk and ride in last Thursday. Staff photographer

Evan Martinec, 34, drives down from Kitsap County to run Gig Harbor’s Cushman Trail once a week. There isn’t really a trail like it up north.

The 6-mile, paved Cushman Trail is popular with visitors and residents alike. It’s recently expanded through projects by the city, and other organizations have expanded the trail to create a path that connects Gig Harbor from north to south. The City of Gig Harbor recently extended the trail to Borgen Boulevard.

All that space spanning hills and turns throughout the city is a boon to runners in training as well as families out for a walk. Martinec is training for an upcoming run and the length of the trail is beneficial.

“You can go as long as you want,” he said.

The length of the trail allows runners like Martinec to train, but it also benefits families who like to use the trail to walk dogs, bike or scooter on a portion. The Russells, Ben and Tiffany, along with children Samantha, 7, and Gavin, 3, come to the trail three or four times a week. They walk to the trail and say they feel safe when they visit.

Every once and awhile, however, those who park their cars at the Cushman Trail can be subjected to break-ins. Martinec has seen the telltale broken glass.

“I get a little nervous sometimes, but I’ve only heard stories,” he said.

Car prowls go in waves, Police Chief Kelly Busey said, but overall citywide there have been 76 car prowls since the beginning of the year.

The Gig Harbor Police Department’s approach to keeping the trail safe and crime-free has been threefold, Busey said. The city added signage, stepped up patrols and began to focus on public education.

There’s an element of public prevention, however, when it comes to Cushman Trail break-ins: Never leave valuables on the seat of a car.

“We would ask for the public’s help in obscuring the view of their values,” Busey said.

About a month ago, an officer on patrol checked the Borgen Boulevard trail head and found that three out of 11 cars in the lot had purses in full view on the seat.

“Lock up your stuff before arriving at a location,” Busey said.

Thieves will steal what they can see, so the best idea is to lock up valuables in a trunk before pulling into a parking lot. That way, any potential thief won’t know if there’s anything in the car.

To help with safety on the trail, the city has rebooted its bicycle patrol. Busey is hopeful that the presence of the patrol will help, along with public awareness.

“Overall, I would say that the Cushman Trail remains a safe place,” he said.

The trail is also about to get longer. Pierce County will begin design and construction of a piece of trail stretching from the 14th Avenue entrance down to 24th Avenue, the location of PenMet Parks’ Tubby’s Trail dog park.

“That’s going to be a really nice addition (to the trail),” said Terry Lee, director of PenMet Parks, which manages the first two miles of the trail starting at 14th Avenue.

Lee has written letters to the state on behalf of Pierce County for the last two years asking for the trail extension. The county received a grant this year.

It will connect Cushman Trail to the five-mile Scott Pierson Trail, effectively turning the trail into a non-motorized link to Tacoma. The Scott Pierson connects 24th Street in Gig Harbor all the way over to 25th Street in Tacoma, running parallel to state Route 16.

That will bring the non-motorized connection to about 11 or 12 miles in Pierce County. Other trails are being developed as well, like the Waterditch Trail in South Tacoma. As the trail system in the county expands, it will bring more opportunities for runners and families.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155