The new Marion Street Pedestrian Bridge to the revamped Seattle Ferry Terminal is set to open this week, and crews removed the temporary walkway over the weekend. But thanks to a creative exchange the Puget Sound to Pacific Collaborative facilitated between the City of Seattle and Clallam County, that temporary walkway will not go to waste. Five of the spans are heading across the sound so they can be repurposed as part of the Puget Sound to Pacific (“PS2P”) trail system, a vision for 200 miles of trails from Bainbridge, Kingston and Port Townsend Ferry Terminals to the Pacific Ocean at La Push.
The deal was fairly simple: The City of Seattle donated the spans to Clallam County in exchange for the county funding the work to take them away. So instead of being sold for scrap metal, they they will be reused to help complete a regional trail that will ultimately connect to Seattle via the ferry. Even though Seattle and Clallam County do not share a border, they share an interest in this trail. There are many missing rail trestles along the planned trail route, and rebuilding those spans will likely be among the more costly elements of the trail construction effort. For now, the spans will be stored until they are needed.
The Sound-to-Pacific Trail is actually a system of trails, with the Olympic Discovery Trail in Clallam County serving as the longest and most-complete section. The Sound-to-Olympics Trail will connect the ODT to the Kingston and Bainbridge ferry terminals. Together, the larger trail vision is a collaboration between at least 13 Washington State counties, cities, agencies and tribes, which all signed onto a successful $16 million federal grant application. Those funds will be used to bring the entire 200-mile project to 100% design, ready for construction. So now I suppose you can add the USDOT and City of Seattle to the list of partners. The Puget Sound to Pacific Collaborative is itself a partnership between the Bainbridge Island Parks & Trails Foundation, the North Kitsap Trail Association, and the Peninsula Trails Coalition.
In addition to connecting Western Washington together, the project will also serve as the Pacific Terminus of the Great American Rail-Trail, a transcontinental biking and walking (and sometimes equestrian) trail as envisioned by the Rails-to-Trail Conservancy. That route would travel through Seattle along the Mountains-to-Sound Trail.
The Olympic Discovery Trail is a truly amazing place, and the existing trail bridges are highlights of the experience. But there are also sections where you have to ride down a steep hillside to cross a stream before biking all the way back up to the rail-trail on the other side. And there are also sections where the trail has yet to be completed at all, and crossing gullies will be required. There is a lot of work to do, but it feels like all of these partners are working together on something truly special.
More details on the walkway deal from the Puget Sound to Pacific Collaborative press release:
An elevated walkway being removed from the Colman Dock ferry terminal starting this weekend is bound for re-use on the Puget Sound to Pacific trail corridor – a combination of the Olympic Discovery Trail and Sound to Olympics Trail in Kitsap, Jefferson and Clallam counties.
The temporary walkway comes down as a new, permanent pedestrian bridge has opened from the Washington State Ferries terminal to First Avenue at Marion Street.
Five of the eight segments from the old span, totaling over 350 feet, are being donated to Clallam County and facilitated by the Puget Sound to Pacific Collaborative. The bridge segments will be trucked away early Saturday morning and stored near Port Angeles.
The walkway segments will eventually be re-used as multi-use bridges along the Puget Sound to Pacific corridor, a planned 200-mile multi-use trail system from the ferry terminals on Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean at LaPush.
The donation was initiated by the Puget Sound to Pacific Collaborative – an initiative of the Bainbridge Island Parks & Trails Foundation, the North Kitsap Trails Association, and the Peninsula Trails Coalition – and approved by the Seattle Department of Transportation.
“The walkway structures are great assets, and can see new use at a number of points along the Puget Sound to Pacific Trail,” said Mary Meier, Bainbridge Island Parks & Trails Foundation executive director. “We’re grateful to Seattle for making these available for public use elsewhere, as the new trail network builds out.”
The elevated walkway had been in service for several years during construction of the new Washington State Ferries terminal at Colman Dock and Seattle’s major waterfront redevelopment. It carried pedestrians to and from the terminal to Pioneer Square along Columbia Street and Western Avenue.
The new passenger walkway connects the terminal with First Avenue at Marion Street.
PS2P Collaborative recently sponsored a successful federal grant application that will bring more than $16.13 million to 14 western Washington agencies to plan and design more than 30 projects along the Olympic Discovery Trail and the Sound to Olympics Trail. The Collaborative led the effort to reuse the temporary bridge components to advance the Puget Sound to Pacific trail network.
The trail system will connect existing and planned sections of the Sound to Olympics Trail and the Olympic Discovery Trail. The route from the Bainbridge Island WSF ferry terminal to La Push is the westernmost leg of the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s Great American Rail Trail, from Washington DC to the Washington Coast.