ROYAL CITY Two representatives from the Washington State Parks were present at the Port of Royal Slope meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Randy Kline, trail program manager, and Kevin Davis, a park ranger and assistant area manager of the East Central Cascades Area, gave the commissioners a short presentation about the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.
The trail runs along the bed of the old Milwaukee Railroad. The rail line owned by the Port of Royal Slope is also part of the old line. The trail takes a detour around the active areas of rail. The land owned on both sides of the Port of Royal Slope rails is owned by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Currently Washington State Parks and DNR are in contract negotiations that will allow state parks to manage the trail. In the next year and a half, the Renslow Trestle over I-90 and the Beverly Bridge will be resurfaced and fenced. Once finished, they will be opened for trail use.
One of the purposes for the trail is to hold the old railroad bed for future railroad use. The Port of Royal Slope would like to extend their line to Ellensburg. One of their concerns with the improvements about to be made to the trail is that it will hinder them from using the railroad bed in the future.
Paul Didelius, the railroad operator for the Port of Royal Slope, who was present at the meeting, noted that the cost of resurfacing the bridges was the same as putting in new rail. He expressed concern that if the Beverly Bridge is repaired without thought to the possibility of rail being added in the future, the $5 million being spent on the bridge will have to be respent to make the bridge compatible for both train and pedestrian use. Currently, the planned repairs to the Beverly Bridge will not be up to railroad standards.
I think you could redeck the Beverly Bridge for a million dollars with rails, if there are not structural deficiencies, Didelius said. Part of me is marveling. How are you going to spend $5 million?
Didelius asked, that while the repairs to the trail are still in the planning stages, that consideration of future rail use be considered. He commented that rail is growing and is progressively being reestablished in the state.
The existing railroads are full, Didelius said. The growth has to go somewhere. Its easier to slide over the trail than a 40 mile per hour train. Building a new bridge is pretty costly.
Kline said that the parks department is open to the possibility of paralleling the trail next to the railroad. He also said that there is a chance that a few vehicles, such as EMS and park rangers, will be allowed to use the Beverly Bridge.
We really want to be good partners with you guys, the city and anyone along the trail, Kline said.
Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.