Progress is being made on a Multimodal Pathway Plan to connect neighboring communities to Chelan, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. 

The Chelan Douglas Transportation Council has been accepting proposals (Request for Proposals) from consulting firms for design work.  

Transportation Council Executive Director Jeff Wilkens says they've raised $1.3 million for the design phase. 

"We've accumulated enough money to make sure that we can really do it right so that what comes out of this is hopefully a consensus that everybody who does or doesn't like trails can hopefully buy into."  

The financing for the design work is largely coming from $900,000 in federal money which is managed by the state Department of Transportation. That funding is being coupled with money from Chelan County and local cities including Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee and Rock Island. 

Wilkens says the budget for this phase of the project is much more than what would typically be $200,000 to $300,000 because they have major goals in place. 

"Our goal is to produce a master plan that actually details where a pathway could go, what it would look like, how much it''ll cost so that we can take the results of this work and actually pursue grants to go build things." 

The project includes paved walking and biking pathways in four corridors, which are generally described as: 

  • The SR 28 corridor between East Wenatchee and Rock Island; 
  • The Malaga Alcoa Highway corridor between Wenatchee and Malaga; 
  • The Upper Wenatchee River Valley between Wenatchee and Leavenworth; and 
  • The SR 150 corridor between Chelan and Manson. 

The vision is for an expanded network of pathways for non-motorized travel between the cities and towns in the region to encourage recreation, provide cost-efficient mobility options and spur economic development and tourism. 

The pathways, outside of the Chelan to Manson corridor, would connect to the existing “Apple Capital Loop Trail”, which runs on both sides of the Columbia River connecting Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, as well as southeast to Kirby Billingsly Park in Douglas County and north on the Rocky Reach Trail to Lincoln Rock State Park in Douglas County. 

The Request for Proposals from the Transportation Council says the area is experiencing steady growth in the tourism industry.  

It also states that the region is experiencing population growth with many new residents being drawn by access to outdoors, coupled with low relative cost-of-living compared to larger metropolitan areas in Washington state. 

Wilkins says they hope to have a consulting firm in place February or March with a goal of getting the design phase complete in the following 18 months. The consulting firm will be charged with determining what the overall cost of the project will be.

The biggest concerns about the project have come from agricultural businesses in the Upper Valley which don't want pathways disrupting their farming activities. 

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Gallery Credit: Reesha Cosby

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