Construction will begin Jan. 6 on a pedestrian bridge over Pacific Avenue in Lacey.
The bridge marks the third and final phase of the Chehalis-Western Trail “Bridging the Gap” project. The future bridge will start at the South Sound Center, cross over the “Kite Girl” statue on Pacific Avenue near the Olympia border and link to the Woodland Trail.
Construction of the new bridge is expected to take 15 months and cost about $2.6 million, said Thera Black of the Thurston Regional Planning Council. The overall cost for the three-phase project, which dates back to 2001, is about $8.4 million.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new bridge was held Dec. 7. Most of the funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration, although the project is under Thurston County management.
For the first phase of the project, a bridge over I-5 was completed in 2007. It allows pedestrians and cyclists to cross I-5 between South Sound Center and Martin Way. A second bridge, which opened in 2010, connects the I-5 bridge to the Chehalis-Western Trail and allows pedestrians to cross Martin Way mid-block.
Jack Horton, president of the Woodland Trail Greenway Association, eagerly awaits the completion of the new bridge. He believes the entire project and trail system are transformative for the region.
Horton said the bridge will make navigation easier for walkers and bicyclists. He also sees social and economic opportunities, especially with a small public space and bicycle roundabout that will be created by the new bridge at the point where the Woodland and Chehalis-Western trails meet.
On a side note, the Woodland Trail Greenway Association secured grants for beautification projects in the area. The association has planted nearly 1,000 trees the past few years, along with thousands of plants, in an effort to increase the trail’s aesthetic value for tourists and locals alike.
“I think we’re going see a lot more people using the trails,” said Horton, an Olympia resident. “It’s been enough to make a difference in our community. You see your neighbors face to face instead of windshield to windshield.”