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Making the connection north — Clear Creek Task Force continues discussions to extend trail despite hurdles
Janice Boatwright and Melissa McCaffery meet in Silverdale to walk on the Clear Creek Trail together nearly every day. With Boatwright residing in Bremerton and McCaffery in Poulsbo, the trail is a perfect half way point for them.
And if the trail was to be extended north, they say it would be a benefit.
“If we want to walk further, that’d be great,” said Boatwright adding that she likes strolling on the trail because of the quiet atmosphere.
The Clear Creek Task Force, made up of community volunteers, has been discussing the expansion of the trail from Trigger Avenue to Kegley Road with Kitsap County employees for about four years. A recurring road block was working with the state to gain access to right-of-way.
County Commissioner Rob Gelder held a meeting Monday with the group to discuss how to move forward with the project.
Longtime Task Force member Tex Lewis said that they do not plan to create a new trail where they are not wanted, but that using existing state right-of-way makes sense because roads are already created where people want to go.
“There’s a tremendous potential for trails in the county if we can break that log jam,” Lewis said.
Clear Creek Trail stretches about six miles through Silverdale and the paved bike path from Waaga Way to Trigger Avenue is about one mile, said Lewis. Plans to continue that bike path north toward Poulsbo has always been in the Task Force’s master plan, he added. It would be about a third of a mile on a soft gravel surface.
“The goal is to complete the connection to Kegley Road,” said Gelder.
Aside from the option of trying to gain access to the State Highway 3 right-of-way, another space just outside of the right-of-way on the Peterson Farm has also been discussed, said Lewis.
Gelder recommended that the cost-benefits of pursuing the project in both routes be assessed so that the group can decide which one to fully pursue.
“It’s kind of been an on again off again thing,” said county transportation planner Bill Zupancic on the project, citing obtaining state right-of-way for the expansion of the trail as a hurdle.
Eric Baker, special projects director for Kitsap County commissioners, said at Monday’s meeting that the Department of Transportation has verbally approved to extend the existing lease within the State Highway 3 right-of-way, though it comes with some limitations.
The drawbacks include the trail having to be paved because soft surface is not allowed on state right-of-way. A paved trail would cost more — Lewis has estimated a gravel trail to cost about $2,000. The state also requires trails to be built to American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials standards, which limits liability to the county after construction.
Going with the Peterson Farm option is also not as simple. The Peterson estate has not been interested in the past to sell an easement for a trail to run through the property, Lewis said.
Either route the project goes, the trail would be worked on by volunteers, just as all Task Force projects are, Lewis said. But, money to fund them is always in need, he added.
Because the project to extend the trail north is not in any approved county plan, the county would not be eligible to apply for any state or federal grants to go toward the project, said Zupancic.
“We’re trying to push something that’s not in a plan anywhere,” he said.
A non-motorized countywide plan that will include a comprehensive bike plan is in the works to be completed by December 2012, Zupancic said, adding that this would be an opportunity to get the project into the county plan.
Lee Derror, president of West Sound Cycling Club, said any trail that provides a linkage for residents in the county to ride either recreationally or for transportation is a benefit. It’s also for the benefit of non-cyclists as well, she added.
“Every other county is moving forward quite briskly on this. The trails are everywhere,” Derror said. “Right now, Kitsap County is kind of in a bottleneck.”