GIG HARBOR -- Peninsula area residents will be better able to enjoy the Cushman and Scott Pierson Trails that run from Tacoma through Gig Harbor, thanks to added funding through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).
"This is an important commitment to recreation for Gig Harbor and the entire region and will be a valuable long-term investment for our community," Sen. Derek Kilmer said. Kilmer this year assumed the role as Vice Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, making him the lead writer of the state’s capital budget. The capital budget funds the state’s buildings, schools, parks and other recreational areas. "While the capital budget was much thinner this year in light of the economic difficulties everyone is facing, the state is trying to make targeted investments in projects that will put people to work and lay the foundation for economic growth in the long-term."
The Cushman Pierson Trails Connector Project was an initially an alternate in a competitive ranking process that started in spring of 2008. With other projects coming in under budget, the state was able to fund a $1,076,605 grant that will develop a half-mile trail connector between the Cushman Trail and the Scott Pierson Trail on the Gig Harbor side of the new Narrows Bridge, completing a dream of the community that began over a decade ago.
Helping to secure this grant is the most recent example of how Kilmer has worked steadily to help WWRP honor its mandate to protect and preserve recreational areas for Washingtonians. Throughout the years, the WWRP has played a pivotal role in the development of recreation and conservation on the peninsula.
“From funding family areas like the DeMolay property on Fox Island or Evergreen Park in Bremerton, to the protection of Hood Canal or native forest through projects like the Stavis and Kitsap Forests or Laughlin Cove, the WWRP grant program has made our community a great place to live, work and play,” said Joanna Grist, executive director for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) which advocates for the WWRP grant program. “A positive consequence of the recession is that land values and construction costs are low, meaning that investment dollars can be stretched further. We are happy to announce that investments in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program will be stretched further, allowing an alternate project in Gig Harbor to receive funding.”
Cushman Trail is a significant tourism draw, bringing people from the Tacoma area out to the Peninsula. With this grant, the trail will connect to the Scott Pierson Trail that extends along the State Route 16 corridor from 25th Street in Tacoma to Stone Drive in Gig Harbor. Bicycle commuting has increased over 75 percent in the last 10 years in Washington State, indicating that the Gig Harbor community stands to gain from this valuable project.
“Though this was a difficult legislative session, everyone remains focused on making sure we can make Washington a great place to work and raise a family,” Kilmer said. “Investments like these ensure that 50 years from now, our children and grandchildren will still be able to enjoy the quality of life that we enjoy today.”