The Ferry County Rail Trail took another step toward completion earlier this month.
Phase 5 of the project will receive state funding from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
This phase “connects the dots,” said Bob Whittaker, chairman of the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners.
The RCO grant is for $376,000 with the rail trail project contributing an additional $45,000 in matching funds.
Phase 5 of the trail will surface nearly 9 miles of trail between the Kiwanis Trailhead northeast of Curlew Lake to Lundimo Meadows Road south of Curlew. Grant money will also fund the improvement of the Curlew trailhead, including installation of a vault toilet, kiosk and signs.
The RCO ranks projects based on community engagement, need and feasibility. The Ferry County Rail Trail Project is No. 1 on the RCO’s list. Construction on phase 5 likely won’t start for a year or two.
The 25-mile trail, which is incomplete, will eventually run from a few miles north of Republic to the U.S.-Canada border.
The rail-to-trail project has benefited from widespread community and regional support. In 2009, residents in a county advisory ballot voted 61 percent to allow only nonmotorized use of the abandoned railway.
The project has been successful in securing outside funding, including a $200,000 federal transportation enhancement grant to put a deck on the trestle across the north end of Curlew Lake. That was followed by two state grants totaling $270,000 for resurfacing 13 miles of the trail and installing two vault toilets.
Brian Carpenter, a grant manager for the RCO, said the rail trail’s persistence and widespread community engagement give it an advantage.
“It’s a standout for us,” he said of the rail trail. “There are other small communities but the Ferry County Rail Trail really stands out for its persistence.
“Where you start having projects stand out is when they are having public meetings and getting involved in the local political process.”
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