Guest blogger Michelle Swanson rides her bike in Olympia.
Bicycling in Thurston County just got a lot easier with the third and final phase of the Bridging the Gap project.
The Chehalis-Western Trail provides the backbone of the Thurston County trail network, running 22 miles from Woodard Bay in the north to the Yelm-Tenino Trail in the south. A former railroad used to transport timber, it’s now a vital respite from busy motor vehicle traffic for people walking and rolling in a variety of ways.
Fifteen years ago, a coalition of several government agencies and advocates worked together to bridge three major gaps in the north part of the trail. The first bridge over I-5 was built in 2007. The second bridge over Martin Way—which was the main north/south route between Seattle and Portland before I-5—was finished in 2010. Saturday December 13, 2014, the community gathered to celebrate bridging of the very last gap over Pacific Avenue.
[Tweet “Bridging the Gap projects complete trail connections in Thurston County. #bikeOLY”]
You can now ride from the Puget Sound to Yelm or Tenino—or both!—almost entirely (save for about 1,500 feet) on a trail in Thurston County. Yay!
[Tweet “Ride from Puget Sound to Yelm/Tenino; trails 99%+ of the way! #bikeOLY”]
In addition to linking to the Yelm-Tenino Trail in the south—which many of our friends up north know from riding part of the STP on it—the Chehalis-Western intersects with the I-5 Trail and the Woodland Trail, two trails that run east and west. Both are great off-street links between Olympia and Lacey.
My favorite part of this project is the intersection between the Chehalis-Western and Woodland Trails: the very first bicycle roundabout in Washington State. Squeee! It looks like a flying saucer, doesn’t it?
[Tweet “1st bike roundabout in WA state on Chehalis-Western & Woodland Trails #bikeOLY”]
This was a massive project, and a lot of people dedicated significant time and effort to make it happen. I’m so happy to live in a community that values bicycling enough to pull something like this off.
Courtesy of Twitter we have two videos shared by Kevin VanDriel of Olympia. The first is a fast-paced hyperlapse view of his ride to the dedication; the second shows the Boy Scout troop, band, and hundreds of people who showed up to celebrate.