WENATCHEE — Tune up your bicycles and get your running shoes out. Completion of the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail’s Rocky Reach extension is a go.
More than $3.75 million to complete the trail’s third and final phase was included in the Washington state budget signed by Gov. Jay Inslee Sunday. The budget funds projects for 2014-15.
“It blew me away. I never thought there was a chance we would get the full amount,” said Bob Parlette, a Wenatchee attorney who has been a primary proponent of the project for nearly 20 years.
Parlette thanked freshman Rep. Brad Hawkins (R-East Wenatchee) for adding the request for funds to the budget.
“It was a piece of magic. He’s been in office six months and he’s been able to get $3.755 million for a project that’s been hanging for 18 years. I’m on top of the world,” Parlette said.
Hawkins said he thought the timing was right to include the request in the House budget, where he is on the capital funds budget committee. He didn’t know if it would pass the Senate, but the entire capital budget sailed through with nearly unanimous approval
“I felt it might never happen if it didn’t happen now. A lot of things lined up to make it work out,” he said. Current low interest rates for construction projects and renewed interest in creating projects that are assets to communities helped the request survive, he said.
The funds come out of the state’s $3.5 billion capital budget that funds public facilities. They do not come out of the state’s $33.6 billion operating budget that funds things like education and social services, nor out of a separate $10 billion transportation budget, Hawkins said.
“This is something that’s going to benefit our community for many years,” he said.
Completion of the approximately 5-mile extension between Lincoln Rock State Park and the 11-mile Loop Trail is broken into three phases. The northern phase of the trail extension is already funded by grants from the Washington State Parks, state Department of Transportation, Chelan County PUD and private donations. Work on the phase, from north end of the trail to Lincoln Rock State Park, is expected to start in August.
Parlette and other members of the Complete the Loop Coalition are staging a community effort to raise more than $300,000 for the second phase of the project which will complete the southern part of the extension. Parlette said about $70,000 has already been raised. The rest, he hopes can be found through local donations by the end of this year. Two $100,000 matching pledges — from Wenatchee Valley Clinic and Dr. Eliot Scull — should help in that regard.
The new state funds will be used to construct the remaining 3.5 miles of the trail between the two other phases. Parlette said work could begin this fall or next spring.