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Spruce Railroad Trail to get improvements
by AMANDA WINTERS
Olympic National Park has plans to make the Spruce Railroad Trail along Lake Crescent more accessible with an 8-foot-wide paved walkway and the reopening of both historical railroad tunnels.
The plan’s environmental assessment was completed and a finding of no significant impact released Sept. 10, allowing the project to move ahead in search of funding. Along with the 8-foot-wide asphalt trail there will be an adjacent 3-foot-wide gravel shoulder and a new segment of trail will be built near the Lyre River in order to bypass and mitigate steep grades in that area. The project is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
“One of the primary goals of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is to work with communities to reconnect people with nature and strengthen our local economics through outdoor recreation and tourism,” said Todd Suess, acting park superintendent.
“This project illustrates the value of public and community collaboration as important issues and concerns have been raised through that process and have helped shape the final decision,” he said.
The 3.5-mile trail, which follows the railroad constructed during World War I to transport spruce trees, will be universally accessible for hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and people traveling in wheelchairs.
Park spokesman Barb Maynes said public comments received after the first release of project plans resulted in a do-over.
A total of 77 comments were received during May and June.
Some of the concerns/comments led to changes large enough they warranted a new environmental assessment, she said.
Public comment continues to come in on the plans and construction is dependent on funding, which has not be established yet, she said.
While Clallam County has some grant funding going toward the project, the Park Service is seeking funding as well, Maynes said.
To view or download the complete trail environmental assessment, go to http://tinyurl.com/SRRT-Olympic.
Hard copies are available upon request by calling the park at 360-565-3004.