The Spokane end of a long-envisioned trail to Fish Lake in southwest Spokane County has opened to riders and walkers, and is already being discovered even in the damp, cool days of November.
“It’s fantastic,” said John Rowicki, of Spokane, after completing a round-trip bicycle ride on the newly paved path.
Rowicki had plenty of solitude. His was the only vehicle parked at the 23-space lot at the trailhead last Monday. During his ride, he said, he encountered two other cyclists and a few people walking their dogs.
The newly developed trailhead is located beneath a pair of railroad trestles that cross Latah Creek southwest of downtown. Access is one block south of the intersection of Government Way and Sunset Boulevard.
The large trailhead parcel is the jumpoff point for more than seven miles of paved trail on an old Union Pacific Railroad right of way that was purchased by the city of Spokane in 1991.
The city previously paved a three-mile segment near Marshall along Cheney-Spokane Road. The newly completed piece, at 4.4 miles, puts the trail within easy reach of urban users.
Nancy Goodspeed, Spokane parks department spokeswoman, said the city wants to plan an opening ceremony to celebrate the completion but will likely wait until warmer weather arrives early next year.
The work was financed through a $987,000 state grant and $780,000 in federal economic stimulus funds.
It includes a pair of restrooms, the parking area, landscaping and restored rail bridges over Interstate 90.
The starting area of the trail parallels the southbound ramp and overpass for U.S. Highway 195 at I-90.
A separate trail connection is already in place from Peaceful Valley along Riverside Avenue west of Latah Creek and south along Government Way.
City officials and trail proponents want to complete the entire trail to Fish Lake, but the section southwest from Scribner Road leads to a pair of live rail crossings, which would have to be crossed by bridges for safety.
A preliminary estimate for the bridges two years ago was $3 million.
Avalanche Web site available
Skiers and other winter-sports enthusiasts may be interested in a new Web site that provides avalanche forecasts for mountains in the Cascades and Olympics in Washington and the Mount Hood area in Oregon.
The site is found at www.nwac.us/.
Construction takes a holiday
Construction projects along state highways in Eastern Washington will be shutting down for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. However, lane restrictions remain in place on U.S. Highway 2 northeast of Farwell Road.
New trail in Wilbur
A new trail and pedestrian bridge are now open along U.S. 2 in Wilbur in northwest Lincoln County.
The project involved construction of a third of a mile of trail and sidewalk as well as installation of a prefabricated bridge over Grouse Creek.
The $520,000 project is being funded by the state and by federal economic stimulus money.