Taking a difficult path - Part of an eroding trail along the Snohomish River could be closed indefinitely.

Everett Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH, WA - 2/4/03-- Part of an eroding trail along the Snohomish River could be closed indefinitely.

The city plans to use $2 million in grants to rebuild and expand Riverfront Trail, running parallel to First Street along the river from Kla Ha Ya Park to Cady Park. But until that work is complete, city staff has recommended that the council close a portion of the trail because it's too dangerous.

"This is a liability issue. The trail has been undermined by erosion. It truly isn't sufficient for trail users," city manager Larry Bauman said.

The city just isn't sure when construction will begin on the new trail. It is still trying to purchase property needed for the project.

"We may end up in court over the easements," Bauman said. "I can't say how long it would be closed."

The City Council will discuss the trail tonight. It's unclear whether council members will make a decision at the meeting.

The current path was built as a utility access trail. Over time, more people started using the trail, and civic groups and residents have donated money and materials to improve the path.

But the river has eaten away at the bank, threatening the trail. There are portions of the trail from Avenue A to Avenue B where the asphalt is only about 2 1/2 feet wide and the edge drops off to the swift-moving river.

Snohomish City Council

The City Council is expected to discuss the closure of a portion of Riverfront Trail at 7 tonight in the George Gilbertson Boardroom, 1601 Ave. D.

No one has been injured, but the city worries someone could easily slip into the water, especially during the winter and spring months when the trail is wet and the river is high.

"One of the staff was working down there when a boy on a bike came speeding down the trail. If he hadn't moved aside, one of them would have ended up in the river," Bauman said.

The city has installed reflectors to mark the narrow trail and a sign warning users of the dangerous conditions. It also has closed the trail during high water.

The staff is reluctant to do more work because the trail is to be rebuilt on a retaining wall.

A full-scale repair would cost roughly $15,000 to $20,000.

"It doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money now when we have plans to move the trail in the future," Bauman said.

Installing a fence is another option, but the city is hesitant to do too much.

"We can't do anything too evasive. We don't want to disturb the soil and create bigger problems," Bauman said.

The closure likely will be met with resistance. The trail attracts hundreds of users on weekends.

Cameron Curtis, whose parents live in Snohomish, came down Tuesday to take in the scenery and read a newspaper.

"It's a great place to come," Curtis said. "I guess I don't agree with closing it if the city doesn't know when it will reopen."

The closure would cut off the connection from Kla Ha Ya Park on the west end of the trail to Cady Park on the east end.

"I don't want to close it, but it has become a serious public safety hazard," Councilman Chris Lundvall said. "I agonize over this. If we didn't already have a plan to build a real trail, I'd find the money to fix it."

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.


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