Community members discuss creation of new trail

New trail would provide over 60 miles for biking, running between cities



Bobbie Ryder, President of Pullman Civic Trust, provides information about the Colfax Albion Pullman Rail Corridor during a Brown Bag meeting on Tuesday afternoon at the Neill Public Library.

JAKOB THORINGTON, Former Evergreen reporter

Members of the Pullman Civic Trust introduced their idea to turn an unused local railway into a trail at the Brown Bag Lunch and Learn Series at noon Tuesday at the Neil Public Library.

Bobbie Ryder, Pullman Civic Trust president, presented “Railbanking and the Colfax-Albion-Pullman Corridor” to the Pullman League of Women Voters.

The CAP is a 19-mile railway owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation that runs from Colfax to Pullman. It is placed just off the South Fork of the Palouse River, away from the traffic of Highway 195.

Ryder said the PCT wants to railbank the railway and turn it into a paved trail that connects to the Latah Trail. The combination of the two will potentially provide over 60 miles of trail.

She said the trail would increase economic revenue in the area from visitors.

“Fifty-plus miles is a destination trail,” she said. “People come for destination trails.”

Another benefit from a paved trail is that it makes the bike ride from Albion to Pullman much safer, Ryder said. The road is hilly and narrow on a rocky shoulder.

“It’s not something you’d want to take your kids on,” she said.

James Lohr, a Pullman resident, said he has wanted to ride his bike from Colfax to Pullman for the last 20 years but has not done it due to safety concerns.

“I never felt safe riding from Colfax to Pullman,” Lohr said.

Ryder said WSDOT has three options for CAP. First, the department can continue maintenance responsibility on the railway, which would not be available for public use. It can railbank the path to create a trail for public use or dispose of the property.

During her presentation, she discussed the success of the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail that was railbanked in 1998.

“Property owners opposed to the trail are now proponents of it,” she said.

Larry Fox, another Pullman resident, said some people may be opposed to the creation of the trail because of how close CAP is to homes and livestock.

“There are some issues that don’t exist on other trails,” Fox said.

Mary Collins, the former president of the League of Women Voters, said one issue people might have with railbanking CAP is that it gentrifies Albion.

“Pullman is getting closer,” she said. “People don’t like the part of it [student apartments] that is getting closer.”

Ryder said she would like to have more one-on-one conversations with opposition to hear the concerns and find a middle ground.

The final decision lies with the state legislature, as the land is owned by the state.