Proposed alternatives to Jefferson County’s “terrifying” highway portion of the bike route from the Salish Sea to the Pacific would route cyclists through Anderson Lake State Park.
Cycling enthusiasts have since 1988 worked to acquire rights of way and other necessities to link up the Olympic Discovery Trail from Port Townsend to Port Angeles and on to Pacific Coast.
The Eaglemount section, which is now moving into its second phase of development, will connect the Larry Scott trail to the newly built section of the Discovery Trail at Milo Curry Road on State Route 101.
Currently, bikers heading out of Port Townsend ride along State Route 20 to 101, but with low visibility, sharp curves, narrow and sometimes non-existent shoulders and high traffic, this route is considered dangerous.
The most recent Olympic Discovery Trail report states that many cross-country bikers have called this stretch of road the “most terrifying” in their journey.
Under consideration are new routes for three segments of that stretch of trail: the northern, central and southern sections. Each of those sections has three proposed routes with their own pros and cons evaluated on safety, acquisition potential, environmental impact, accessibility for the
mobility challenged, cost, length, land use permitting, user experience and
All proposed routes start at the end of the Larry Scott trail, pass through Anderson Lake state park, pass through Eaglemount and end at highway 101 at the inland end of Discovery Bay.
In order to build any section of trail the county must first acquire the correct land rights and permits. John Fleming of Jefferson County Public Works said the land acquisition is what will dictate the cost, timeline and final route of the project.
“The sellers control the whole project,” he said. “It evolves day by day, that’s why a simple thing like a seven-mile trail has taken 25 years to complete.”
Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, secured the initial $1 million from the Washington State Legislature to fund the Eaglemount study. He echoed Fleming, saying the most difficult part of the project will be the acquisition, even more difficult than securing the rest of the funding from the Legislature to build the trail and buy the land.
Tharinger estimates the total cost will be upwards of $7 million with costs to build the trail out to Anderson Lake of at least $3 million.
“It will be challenging but it’s doable,” he said. “It’s recognized as an important trail at the state and national level and that will help secure funding.”
Fleming said Public Works is aware of the periodic blooms of algae and neurotoxins in Anderson Lake State Park and said that although Washington State Parks will decide the final route through the park, it is possible to have the trail not run close to the lake.
Tharinger said that with proper signage he does not believe the increased traffic the new trail will bring to the lake will cause problems.
“We don’t want to create an attractive nuisance,” he said “It’s a concern we have to be aware of but I don’t think it’s a reason to stop the trail.”
The next step of the process is a public comment session which Fleming said he hopes to hold at the weekly county commissioner meeting on June 17.