Foothills Trails bridge destroyed in windstorm to be replaced during next trail building project

A Foothills Trail bridge destroyed in a windstorm last fall is expected to be removed within the next three months, said Tony Tipton, director of Pierce County Parks and Recreation.

Tipton says replacing the bridge will cost an estimated $600,000, “money we’d obviously rather be spending on new trail.”

The bridge was crushed by a falling tree in a November windstorm.

The bridge is on a completed, but disconnected section of the Foothills Trail between Buckley and South Prairie. The approximately 1-mile section of paved trail is bookended by unpaved and unfinished trail.

The county has acquired the right of way for the section of the trail, and Tipton says he hopes work on completing the Buckley-South Prairie Section will begin this year. That work is expected to cost about $5.5 million, Tipton said. Replacing the bridge will take place during this process.

Tipton is hopeful the trail will be open for use by 2017.

The downed bridge will not impact a pair of trail runs used to raise money f-or the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition. The June 6 Rainier to Ruston Rails-to-Trails Relay, a 50-mile ultramarathon and relay race from Mount Rainier to the Tacoma waterfront, does not use this portion of the trail.

However, the July 25 Foothills B&O Half Marathon would cross the bridge if it used its regular course.

Rob Hester, director of both races, says only a short detour around the bridge will be needed and the route will stay essentially the same for this year’s race.

Organizers plan to build a temporary trail for the detour. As a backup, they have permission to route the course across a nearby landowner’s property.

The longest section of completed Foothills Trail stretches more than 15 miles from Puyallup to South Prairie. A short section called the JEB III Link was added in Puyallup in 2014.