Sports

Breaking trail on Central Whidbey

Left to right on bikes: David, Nash and Jodi Grimm, and left to right on horseback; Peg Difert on Chief and Vickie McCreless on J’Lo, attend the Rhododendron Trail groundbreaking ceremony. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Left to right on bikes: David, Nash and Jodi Grimm, and left to right on horseback; Peg Difert on Chief and Vickie McCreless on J’Lo, attend the Rhododendron Trail groundbreaking ceremony.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

More than a dozen people, including three on bikes, two on horseback and several with their canines, attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Rhododendron Trail project on Wednesday.

The new pathway will extend the Kettles Trail more than a mile from State Route 20 and Main Street to SR 20 and Jacobs Road, making a pathway about three miles long. The paved trail will have a grass shoulder to accommodate equestrians, bikers, joggers and families, alike.

“It looks like we have some people ready to use the trail,” Assistant County Engineer Randy Brackette said at the start of the celebration, as he took a sampling of attendees and their intended uses of the trail.

Project Manager Joantha Gutherie talked of other pathway projects and her hopes for future trails.

“It’s happening - we’re finally here,” she said, explaining that the Rhody Trail is just the beginning of a larger network of trails.

This project is partially funded through STPE, a transportation enhancement grant through the Federal Highway Administration. Island County is also providing some funding for the pathway, which costs just more than $1 million.

“We’re not done yet. We’re hoping to get all the way to the Rhododendron Garden from here,” she said of phase two.

Coupeville is working from a trail plan which provides a framework to all non-motorized transportation, she said. Some day Gutherie

hopes to link island communities together through an extended trail system.

“Making something like this happen is not easy,” she said. “It’s taken several years.”

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard also had a few words about the trail’s utility.

“Our community is just trail crazy,” she said, a sentiment echoed among others in the crowd.

Vickie McCreless, who showed up with her horse J’Lo, couldn’t have agreed more.

“I hope there will eventually be trails from one end of

the island to the other,” she

said after the ground brea inging ceremony.

“I hope this happens within my lifetime.

“I within my lifetime

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