The city is, at the urging of a state agency, considering replacing the Tommy Thompson Trail trestle across Fidalgo Bay with a more ecologically-friendly structure.
The state Department of Natural Resources, as part of the Anacortes Baywide Cleanup, is seeking a three-year agreement with the city in order to study just how to make the trestle, or a replacement, and the causeway leading to the trestle a bit more friendly to the bay.
The proposed agreement would allow DNR and the city to work together to develop, “a specific plan for the city-owned Tommy Thompson Trail trestle and causeway and aquatic land in the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Preserve.
“The plan would include recommendations for potential removal or encasement of creosote pilings and replacing the public trail infrastructure with a non-toxic and functional replacement that seeks to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic vegetation and fish and wildlife habitats, restores sediment transport processes, and protects water quality,” according the agreement.
City Parks & Recreation Director Gary Robinson Monday night outlined for the City Council what he saw sd plusses and minuses, which he termed Possibilities and Concerns.
Robinson said that, on the plus side, are creosote removal which will benefit the environment; increased water flow to the south end of Fidalgo Bay which will potentially improve the environment; improved structure which could last a very long time; protection from sea level rise; and, increased cooperation with other agencies, such as the Samish Tribe and state DNR.
On the concerns side, Robinson said the city doesn’t want replacement of the trestle and causeway to get in the way of efforts to complete the Guemes Channel Trail. He said there could be questions on return on investment. And, finally, he wondered if removal of the causeway could cause unintended consequences.
The agreement includes the suggestion that some funds might be available from DNR to help the city pay for the improvements. In addition to the DNS and the city, presumably the Samish Tribe would be included in the plans since the trail runs across property owned by the tribe. In addition, the tribe has, in the past, indicated a desire to clean up the ecology of Fidalgo Bay.
The portion of the trail that bisects the Bay is built on a causeway and trestle that follows an old railroad right of way owned by the city. The well-used trail provides a scenic view of the bay. The trestle portion of the trail is 2,020 feet long and is supported by existing creosote pilings. The causeway section is on fill protected by riprap armoring and extends 2,360 feet across the bay. The right of way is generally 100 feet wide.
DNR proposes to take the lead on developing cost estimates for the design phase of the trestle removal and replacement project, which will be an initial phase ofthe project. DNR is not making a financial commitment as part of the agreement, but will undertake this with the understanding that the reserve program has sufficient funding to support it.
This design phase may include additional feasibility work, such as sediment contaminant studies, creosote isolation studies, etc. The basic project concept information can be used to initiate a public discussion about the need and opportunity to remove and replace the creosote structure with an appropriate, non-toxic alternative.
The agreement is set to come back to the Council for approval at a later date.