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Paving begins on waterfront trail

 

Christopher Andersson

Construction has begun on what will become a trail along the Ebey Slough on Sept. 15.

Construction has begun for a new waterfront trail in downtown Marysville that will run along the Ebey Slough and the recently restored Qwuloolt Estuary.

The estuary was a project from the Tulalip Tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other groups that worked to restore land that was formerly used for farming to a more natural estuary habitat.

The Qwuloolt Estuary is located near the Sunnyside area of Marysville.

Last August a levee near the Ebey Slough was breached as part of the final phase of the project.

Marysville officials hope to take advantage of the restored habitat with a trail system near the downtown.

"This has been a dream of mine, and a lot of folks at the city, for a while now," said Jim Ballew, Parks, Culture and Recreation director for the city.

"This is one of the most important projects that we've started in a while, at least in terms of quality of life," he said.

The public only has access to about 900 feet of the Ebey Slough, and creating more waterfront recreation has been a long-term goal for the city, he said.

The trails also tie in with the city's plans to expand Ebey Waterfront Park in the future, when funding is secured.

Last week, beginning on Sept. 14, the first phase of the trail system was begun with workers paving a trail along the Ebey Slough.

Crews paved a total of 1.7 miles of new trail for the city.

State funding helped to pay for the project, including a $325,000 grant from the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account from Washington state's Recreation Conservation Office.

The newly paved surface will connect with the existing trail system near Harborview Park in Sunnyside on the east end, and connect with the Ebey Waterfront Park on the west end and go around the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant, said city engineer Jeff Laycock.

Those trails will take the public to the west and east ends of the estuary breach.

Those trails will also be furnished with signs, benches, picnic tables, fences and vegetation in the coming months, said Laycock.

"We'll be out to bid for additional improvements after this is finished," he said. "I expect those will be completed later this fall."

Two "classroom sized" areas that schools can use will also be part of the design, said Ballew.

"There's a practical science aspect of coming down to see the nature in the Qwuloolt Estuary," that schools can take advantage of, he said.

The trails could be open to the public after those improvements are finalized.

"We might be able to open by the end of the year," said Ballew.

These 1.7 miles of new trail are the first part of a planned trail system.

"We've got a master plan for a trail system around the Qwuloolt Estuary which we hope to complete one day if we can secure the finances," said Ballew.

Many trails in the downtown would connect with each other, he said, with the exception of a bridge over the breach, which won't be possible due to the way the breach was designed.

The trails will help highlight the new Qwuloolt Estuary habitat in Marysville though, said Ballew.

"The estuary is a gem," he said. It's the second largest estuary in the state and it's man made, which makes it a unique asset for the city.

He expects tourism to increase once the trails are open as well, with kayakers, boaters or people who just want to see the nature coming out.

 

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