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Cedars Trail finally gets on work schedule

A long-awaited trail planned to connect woodland paths in South Whidbey Community Park with a cross-town walkway in Langley could begin linking up late this year if everyone involved is agreeable.

With a unanimous vote last week, the Island County Board of Commissioners sent $217,000 in local and county funds to planners mapping out the future Cedars Trail. Conceived years ago as a car-free route between Langley and the community park, the trail is just one part of the county's $5.7 million construction program for 2002. Perhaps the most visible project of the coming year or two when compared to routine asphalt overlay projects, the trail is planned to cross private lands on gifted and purchased easements as it connects city and country.

Gary Hess, the lead county engineer for the project, said the county's public works department will spend the $217,000 and the next year plotting the Cedars Trail route and acquiring the land on which it will run. Though he is not optimistic about starting construction in 2002, he said the following year will certainly bring a county work crew into the woods between Langley and Maxwelton roads.

Because most of the funding for the project comes from the federal government, the trail will have to meet certain federal specifications. It will have to be on a grade that makes it accessible to people of all physical abilities, and must be wide enough for two-way walking, biking and horse traffic.

"We have to build it accessible," Hess said.

Hess said he hopes to surface the trail with a compacted crushed rock. However, he said, the feds might insist on asphalt.

"They want these big wide things with pavement," he said.

The budget for the project, which is just over $300,000, and public sentiment might, however, preclude a paved surface, Hess said.

The approximately two-mile trail is planned to connect trails at the park with Langley's cross-town walkway, which ends at the Island County Fairgrounds.

Also on tap in next year's construction budget is $450,000 for right-of-way purchases and engineering for a road-widening project on Bayview Road between Highway 525 and Andreason Road. Island County Engineer Dick Snyder said public works plans to start building paved shoulders onto the road sometime in 2003.

The county will also undertake drainage and culvert projects on Maxwelton Road, Harbor Hills Drive and Saratoga Road, and in the Mutiny Sands area. Culverts to be installed on Saratoga Road will stop a slow road failure near the Frei family farm, while a $120,000 project on Harbor Hills Drive will replace a drainage outfall that is failing.

The most expensive project on the coming year's list is a $1.04 million stabilization project in the Maple Grove area. The work will arrest several sections of road failure.

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