By Don Nelson
Two portions of what is eventually intended to be an extensive system of linked recreational trails through Winthrop are making progress, town residents and business owners learned at a Monday meeting (July 27) in the Winthrop Barn.
The meeting was hosted by the town to provide details about the projects and let people ask questions.
Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said that work on another portion of the Susie Stephens Trail, a multiple-use trail that begins near the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink, could begin this fall.
The trail will be extended southward on Highway 20 and will cross the highway at a point near Pardner’s Mini Market. Culp said there will be a crosswalk with a user-activated flashing beacon alerting motorists to stop. There will be a similar crosswalk on White Avenue, she said, where it intersects with Highway 20 – a particularly hazardous place to cross now, she said.
Winthrop Town Council member Mike Strulic raised a concern about stopping traffic on Highway 20 at another spot (in addition to the four-way stop on Riverside Avenue) during particularly busy days when tourist traffic is heavy. Public works director Rick Karro, acknowledged that might be a periodic problem, but noted that pedestrians always have the right of way at such crossings.
The other project that is funded and well along in design is a portion of the proposed RiverWalk along the Chewuch and Methow rivers, intended to expand access to the rivers and eventually connect with the Susie Stephens Trail, Culp said.
Work could begin next spring on an underpass that will carry pedestrians under the Highway 20 bridge over the Chewuch River, Culp said, with trails extending on either side of the underpass. David Stipe, a principal with the design firm SCJ Alliance, discussed details of the project and showed conceptual drawings.
The pedestrian-only path will have access (including handicapped access) from the parking lot behind the Tenderfoot and from the Farmers Exchange Building, Stipe said.
He said there will be no impact on existing parking – a concern of downtown merchants.
Rita Kenney, co-owner of Winthrop Mountain Sports, and resident Roxie Miller spoke in support of the RiverWalk concept. Kenney said the most frequent comment she hears from customers is that they wish there was an uninterrupted trail along the river.