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Closing The Centennial Trail Gap
ARLINGTON — It was a project 30 years in the making, and those who pushed it forward are already planning the next stages of its development.
On Oct. 15, the Armar Road Trailhead served as the site for the dedication of the final stretch of Centennial Trail between Arlington and Snohomish.
Snohomish County Parks Director Tom Teigen laughingly thanked the “Housewives from Hell” with driving the county parks department to close the 1.2-mile gap in the trail between 172nd and 152nd streets along 67th Avenue NE, with the county and state splitting the $1.4 million cost of constructing that stretch of the trail.
Snohomish County Council member John Koster acknowledged that he was “guilty of harassing Tom” by constantly asking him when the gap would be closed, and when Koster asked Teigen when the final four miles of the trail from Bryant north to the county line would be done, Teigen estimated that it would be completed in a few weeks.
Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson praised not only City Council member Marilyn Oertle and Capital Projects Manager Paul Ellis, but also longtime Centennial Trail Coalition members Chuck and Bea Randall, with pushing to make this happen.
“That takes tenacity,” said Larson, who added that Oertle and Ellis were also instrumental in incorporating an upcoming visitor center and public restroom into the trail. “In a small town, it’s the ‘we’ that gets things done.”
Teigen extended credit to Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon for making the trail a priority, as well as Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring for writing letters in support of closing the gap even back when he was a City Council member. Teigen then recounted how, two years ago, he’d ridden his own bike along the gap on 67th Avenue NE.
“That was an awesome white-knuckle experience,” Teigen laughed. “In 15 years, it was closest I’ve come to a near-death experience.”
According to Teigen, the closure of the gap benefitted from re-allocated grant funds and cooperation by not only the Army Corps of Engineers, but also the state and federal departments of Ecology and Fish & Wildlife.
Beth Hill, president of the Centennial Trail Coalition of Snohomish County, characterized this project as an object lesson in the value of persistence.
“We started working on this 23 years ago,” Hill said. “You can raise a kid and put him through college sooner than that. You just have to follow through and stick with it.”
Hill explained that the next step will be to complete the Whitehorse Trail, from its intersection with the Centennial Trail at in Arlington along the Stillaguamish River to Darrington.
Steve Rippert, of the Traildusters Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, is looking forward to riding toward Darrington, but in the meantime, he sees the closing of the Centennial Trail gap as a benefit to horse and bike riders alike.
“There’s nothing better to get your horses used to bikes or moms with baby carriages,” Rippert said. “All good things take time. What a great expenditure this is.”
“We won’t have to do that ‘suicide mile’ anymore,” said Arlington resident Rick Schranck, of the B.I.K.E.S. Club of Snohomish County. “I must have ridden 43,000 miles in the past five years, and about 10,000 of them were along this trail. Now we can ride from downtown Arlington to downtown Snohomish in safety.”