This article was originally published on 4/16/24 by Jason Taylor on the KPQ News Radio website. You can find the original article here.

The Chelan and Douglas County Pathways project to build paved trails in the area is picking up steam.

A public outreach effort will start in May, which will include pop-up tables at events like the Apple Blossom Festival as well as social media posts and a Pathways website.

Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay says the trails will connect communities and offer different transportation options for residents.

“It will also open up opportunities for folks to use alternative methods of transportation,” said Overbay. “And for that, we’re just being more climate-conscious, but we’re also really, kind of taking a look at alternatives for folks that may not necessarily have traditional methods of transportation.”

The plan for the Pathways project is to connect neighboring communities to Chelan, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee, and East Wenatchee.

There’s a total of $1.46 million going toward a study on building the Pathways project. It includes $900,000 in federal money which is managed by the state Department of Transportation. That funding is being coupled with money from Chelan County and local cities including Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee, and Rock Island.

The Chelan Douglas Transportation Council accepted proposals (Request for Proposals) from consulting firms for design work in January.

The Transportation Council authorized the consultant contract with ALTA. Initial visitation and planning began in March with the public outreach starting in May.

The plan is for the Pathways routes and design to be more formalized by next fall. The goal is to achieve a 30-60 percent design phase and have trail alignments identified, which would likely open more federal dollars for the project.

Overbay says the trails system will ideally handle motorized transportation and biking and foot traffic for the entire community.

“I’m just really excited about the opportunity, both on the motorized side of opening up areas that currently are maybe closed off to folks that, maybe, rely upon motorized recreation,” Overbay said. “But also looking at the ability for us to just provide these multiple pathways for all citizens and all community members that reside here.

The project includes paved pathways in five corridors, which are generally described as:

  • The SR 28 corridor between East Wenatchee and Rock Island;
  • The Malaga Alcoa Highway corridor between Wenatchee and Malaga;
  • The Upper Wenatchee River Valley between Wenatchee and Leavenworth; and
  • The SR 150 corridor between Chelan and Manson.
  • The latest addition is a rails and trails pathway from Wenatchee to Chelan

The biggest concerns about the project have come from agricultural businesses in the Upper Valley which don’t want pathways disrupting their farming activities.

Overbay reiterated the county’s position that it would not invoke eminent domain to take over land owned by tree farmers. Land for right-of-way for the trail system would only come through willing sellers.

 

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