+15 15 votes

Rocky Reach Trail Updates

This photo is of the Loop, but the Rocky Reach Trail will give us another 5 miles of this kind of riverfront beauty to hike, ride, run, skate,...
As most of our local trail users know, the Rocky Reach Trail is now a go after more than a decade of trials and litigation. The 4.9-mile non-motorized trail to connect the northern end of the Loop Trail and Lincoln Rock State Park has been approved by the State Supreme Court (twice) and there is no more legal wiggle room for trail opponents to delay this project.

The biggest remaining obstacle is funding. The Rocky Reach Trail would have cost $1.4 million in the mid 1990s, and supporters had fully secured this funding before the legal guano hit the fan. In the interim the cost of building the trail has greatly escalated and is projected to run just shy of $6 million. A good chunk of the cost increase is due to inflation. However, considerable expense was also tacked on with concessions made to trail opponents to safeguard against any spray drift issues.

This leaves a lot of money to raise but rather than stall the project until all the funding is secure, the project has been divided into three stages: Phase 1 will build the north end of the trail starting from Lincoln Rock State Park and moving southward to view point. Phase 2 Two will build the south end of the trail starting at the Odabashian Bridge and moving 0.6 miles northward to viewpoint. Phase 3 will connect the remaining 3.3 miles between Phases 1 and 2.

At this time pre-existing funding is available to start and complete Phase 1, which is valued at $1.28 million. Construction is expected to begin late this spring. Phase 2 is valued at $298,000. Eliot and Tina Scull have offered $100,000 to the project as a 1 to 2 match – for every $2 the community offers the Sculls will contribute a dollar. This phase will likely be completed by next year.

Getting the two ends built looks very doable. Once the ends are built the drive to complete the connecting trail will gain momentum. Still, it’s going to take community concern, community funds, and community drive to get the job done. Unless those of us who would value the trail get involved, the trail will remain two paved ends to nowhere. 

To get people excited about the trail and involved with the effort, Bob Parlette, chairman of the Complete the Loop Coalition and the man who is still the force behind getting this trail built, has developed a website and is organizing a walk on Saturday, March 30. Special permission has been obtained to allow participants to walk the entire five-mile length of the proposed trail.

The Rocky Reach River Walk will begin at 9:00 a.m. with half of participants walking south from Lincoln Rock State Park and half walking north from the Odabashian Bridge. This walk will help raise support and awareness for the trail, and will kick off fundraising efforts for Phases 2 and 3. More details are available here.

Ed Farrar will sure love having the mileage of our paved bike system increased and diversified. Weather providing he rides the Loop daily.