A key portion of the planned Appleway Trail through the heart of Spokane Valley could be completed this summer.
Council members want formal proposals on how much it would cost to develop a section of the old Milwaukie Railroad right of way between University and Pines roads. The former rail line is just south of Sprague Avenue and is seen by city leaders as a way to encourage people to walk or bike through one of the busiest stretches of town.
Mayor Dean Grafos said he considers completion of at least a portion of the trail to be among his top priorities for the year.
Instead of waiting until the city has $2.5 million to complete the phase from University to Evergreen, Grafos said this week he’d like to push ahead with perhaps just half of that so Valley residents can start using and enjoying it.
Estimates indicate the city could develop a paved trail to Pines for less than $1.3 million, which would include benches and lighting but would put other amenities such as restrooms and play areas on hold.
“Property owners I’ve talked to are getting excited,” the mayor said during a daylong City Council workshop on Tuesday, explaining some have talked about the possiblity of creating outdoor dining areas to draw in trail users.
The city has secured nearly $643,000 in grants for the trail and Spokane Valley’s legislative delegation is trying to get money allocated from the state budget. Grafos said getting the trail started could help leverage more grants and other funding.
The mayor’s plan appears to have general support among fellow council members but some cautioned it could be a mistake to skimp on amenities.
“I think it’s important that people see we’re doing it the right way,” said Councilman Chuck Hafner.
He and others suggested that even if the city delays building certain amenities along the trail to keep the initial costs down, the infrastructure such as sewer lines and other utilities should be part of the the initial project to limit future costs and disruptions as the project is fully completed.
City Manager Mike Jackson said a formal proposal will be prepared for council consideration. The city’s Public Works Director Eric Guth estimated a University- to-Pines portion of the trail could be completed within two to three months once work begins.
The planned trail eventually would link to a paved pathway on the east end of the city, which hooks into Liberty Lake’s municipal trail system.
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