Clallam County's Spruce Railroad Trail, tunnel project honored by state
PORT ANGELES — State officials have issued a bravo to Clallam County.
A project to improve the Spruce Railroad Trail and restore a historic tunnel at Lake Crescent was recognized Tuesday for earning the top score in the trails category of a Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant competition.
Kaleen Cottingham, director of the state Recreation and Conservation Office, presented the agency's Bravo Award at the county commissioners' meeting.
“We give out grants for incredible projects, and our Bravo Award recognizes those projects that are so spectacular because they rank No. 1 in a particular category,” Cottingham said.
“This year, it's for the continuing work on the Olympic Discovery Trail.”
Clallam County received a $460,000 state grant to reconstruct a half-mile segment of the historic trail to the east end of the 96-year-old McFee Tunnel on the north shore of the lake.
The 450-foot-long tunnel will be restored as part of the project, which is now being designed.
Once completed next year, the paved and widened Spruce Railroad Trail segment and restored tunnel will be wheelchair-accessible. It is part of the Olympic Discovery Trail, a path that will eventually connect Port Townsend to LaPush.
“I'm so pleased to see that it's continuing to move forward with all the various relationships with the Park Service, the Forest Service, the DNR [state Department of Natural Resources], the cities,” Cottingham told commissioners.
“Partnerships are huge for outdoor recreation and conservation.”
Cottingham said the key components to a good project are vision, funding and partnerships.
The county's partnerships with Olympic National Park and the Peninsula Trails Coalition were vital to the success of the Spruce Railroad-McFee Tunnel project, Transportation Program Manager Rich James told commissioners.
The park will supplement $100,000 of a required 50 percent local match, and the trails coalition has committed cash and volunteer work, James said.
“Hopefully at this time next year, we'll be looking at another half a mile of trail open to the McFee Tunnel, which is the larger tunnel,” James said.
“That's going to be pretty exciting when we get this done next year.”
Clallam County this year is building a paved spur trail to Devil's Punchbowl, a popular swimming hole below the McFee Tunnel.
8 feet wide
The Spruce Railroad Trail itself will be 8 feet wide with an adjacent 3-foot-wide gravel shoulder.
It will allow bicyclists and other trail users to bypass U.S. Highway 101 and connect 60 miles of existing trail east of the lake with 20 miles of existing trail west of the lake.
The state Recreation and Conservation office has awarded six grants to Clallam County for the Olympic Discovery Trail.
All told, Clallam County has received 315 grants from the office worth more than $100 million for recreation, conservation and salmon recovery efforts, Cottingham said.