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Central Whidbey trailblazing uncertain

Soon, students will have a safe place to walk on Ebey Road near Coupeville.

The county is working with the school district to install a trail that will connect the Kettles Trail to the nearby school facilities.

Plans show the trail will stretch along school district property next to Ebey Road to the intersection with Terry Road.

Once that new trail is complete, students will have a continuous path that will be beneficial for athletic teams and physical education classes, said Joantha Guthrie, project manager for Island County Public Works.

The Coupeville School Board does have some concerns that need to be addressed before it signs off on a trail being built on school property.

“Now there is absolutely no gain for us except to have a headache,” school board member Kathleen Anderson said during last Monday’s meeting.

She expressed safety and visibility concerns about a trail installed inside of the hedgerow that separates the future Ebey Field from the road.

There were also concerns about having the trail near the retention pond and the size of the fence needed to surround the pond.

Another board member was concerned about people choosing to cross Highway 20 at Ebey Road, which is dangerous in light of the 55 mph speed limit motorists follow when approaching Coupeville.

“I don’t want to do anything that would promote crossing at this intersection,” said Carol Bishop school board member.

There are plans to put a sign on the trail that would encourage people to cross at Main Street, but that sign would have to be on school district property. To put a sign near the highway, the school district would have to petition the state Department of Transportation.

The school board approved placing a sign on school district property but tabled the trail decision. That allows the district’s risk manager to review the project.

The county received $126,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to pay for construction of the trail. Guthrie said she hopes the trail, which will be similar to the other trails scattered throughout Coupeville, will be completed by next summer.

The county is looking to add another trail going out of Coupeville. There are plans to connect the Kettles Trail, which ends at Main Street, to Rhododendron Park located east of Coupeville. The county is only able to build a 1.3-mile stretch from Main Street to Jacobs Road. The trail will be paved.

Guthrie said the trail will make it possible for people to get from Rhododendron Park to Fort Ebey State Park without having to drive a car.

The county received $301,000 of grant money to help pay for the project.

To finish the connection to Rhododendron Park, the county has to purchase easements from several private property owners.

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