Tekoa trestle gains funding


Boards serve as the only access for the daring to access the Tekoa trestle bridge.

The former Milwaukee Railroad trestle at Tekoa has been included in the state's next two-year budget which was approved before the legislature adjourned April 28 in Olympia. The funding would provide decking and fencing on the trestle span which has been blocked off since the state purchased the Milwaukee right-of-way and converted it to the John Wayne Trail, now officially known and the Palouse to Cascades Trail.

Pete Martin, president of Friends of the Tekoa Trestle, reported the trestle project has been funded for $1,014,000.

Martin noted the funding was celebrated by the Tekoa group which has pushed for years to get the high trestle open as part of the cross-state trail system and a key attraction at the east end of the trail which ends at the Idaho state line.

The budget listing leaves them somewhat in a quandary because the state parks request for the trestle was in the $1.7 million range.

Martin said the group has not seen a specific plan for what will be done on the trestle, although similar state projects at other points along the trail show a concrete deck with fencing on either side.

Approximately a mile of the route on the west side of the trestle is not used because it leads to a dead end at the barrier which blocks off the trestle on the south side.

As long as the trail has been open, eastbound hikers, horse and bike riders get off the former Milwaukee route and approach Tekoa on Lone Pine Road which meets the former UP railroad route on the south side of Highway 27. The UP trail goes under the trestle and into Tekoa.

Martin said he and other members of the group are encouraged by the funding which will increase the overall attraction of the trail. He and Fred Wagener, secretary of Tekoa group, planned to attend a state gathering of trail supporters Wednesday in South Cle Elum where plans for the Great American Trail, which includes the Milwaukee route through Washington and the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene across north Idaho, will be unveiled by the Rails to Trails Conservancy based in Washington, D.C.

Wagner and Tristan Smith of Tekoa rode across the Palouse to Cascades Trail in 2015 to scout out the cross-state route as part of the Tekoa push to get the trestle surfaced and back in action. Martin drove the support vehicle for the two cross-state riders who made the ride in a week.

The state budget also includes a $1.7 million listing for improving the surface of the trail between Malden and Rosalia. That project is tied to a Department of Commerce budget listing of $150,000 for a study of trail impacts which calls for input from trail supporters and property owners along the trail. The budget calls for the study to be conducted by a contractor, according to Mark Borleske of Everett.

Borleske owns property next to the cross-state trail at Rosalia and has hosted pedestrian field walks across the concrete trestle at Rosalia for the past two years.

Another big boost for the cross-state trail approved by this year's legislature was a total of $5,575,000 for decking the former Milwaukee bridge across the Columbia River at Beverly. The Columbia River bridge is another gap which has been in the trail since it was started.

Most of the funds for the Beverly Bridge project was included in the State's Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation. Trail riders have used the crossing at Wanapm Dam to get to the west side of the river and continue west to Othello.

Borleske commented approval of funding for the Beverly Bridge, once it was formally proposed happened relatively fast in comparison to some of the long-standing trail gaps such as the Tekoa trestle which have sat for years without much of a chance of getting funds to get back on the trail gap.

Approval of funds in line for the Beverly Bridge this year follows approval of funds at the prior legislative session to deck the Renslow Trestle which crosses I-90 at the top of the grade west of Vantage. Borleske said he understands final plans have been prepared for the Renslow project to get underway.


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