By Steve Guntli
In a 5-0 vote, Blaine City Council has endorsed the Bay to Bay International Trail project.
At the regular council meeting on June 8, the council voted to show support for the project (councilmembers Charlie Hawkins and Paul Greenough were absent).
The trail project has been in the works for years, but local officials are finally taking steps to make it a reality. When finished, the 9-mile system will connect Birch Bay, Blaine and White Rock in one continuous trail, allowing for safe pedestrian and bike travel between Birch Bay and White Rock.
“We absolutely want to support this,” councilmember Bonnie Onyon said. “They just need to add this other piece, and it looks like a lot of the work is already done.”
City manager Dave Wilbrecht said the trail project would be a boon for both Blaine and Birch Bay.
“People are more and more interested in projects like this, or the library or the playground,” he said. “This is kind of an exciting time for us.”
Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 (BBBPRD2) commissioners have been working to make the trail a reality since 2007, but difficult terrain has made the project challenging. The biggest challenge, according to BBBPRD2 president Jeff Carrington, is the stretch of land between Lincoln Road and Peace Portal Drive, which passes over marshland, forests and fields and through some private properties.
In April, BBBPRD2 purchased two easements through the roughly mile-long stretch from Lincoln Road to East Drayton Harbor Road. Owners of a middle property where the third easement is needed have expressed support for the project, according to parks commissioner Ted Morris.
BBBPRD2 is applying for grants to improve sections of the road and connect the trails. Carrington and the parks commissioners have been drumming up support for the project in the community. The resolution from the city council serves as a group endorsement from the city of Blaine.
When finished, the trail connecting Blaine and Birch Bay would start at Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, go north to Birch Bay State Park and connect to Birch Bay Drive.
From Birch Bay Drive, the route would travel north up Harborview Road, which has an improved shoulder suitable for walkers and bikers. The proposed route then heads east on Lincoln Road, which dead-ends after a quarter of a mile. That’s where the off-road trail section would go north from Lincoln Road toward Drayton Harbor Road where it crosses California Creek. From there the route would continue to cross Dakota Creek and connect with trails in Blaine.
Morris estimates the trail will be complete in about two years.