News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Marion County angling for $5.8 million in trail grants

Marion County is expecting to hear soon about an application for $5.8 million in grants for the Santiam Rail Trail Project, which would link Mill City and Gates with a paved hiking/biking trail.

The county applied in January through the Oregon Community Paths Program, which offers grants from both state and federal funding sources.

The Oregon Transportation Commission is expected to award projects during its regular meeting July 13 in Pendleton at the Wildhorse Event Center. Supporters of the grant will have an opportunity to weigh in during public comment, and have included local elected officials, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Rep. Jami Cate (R-Lebanon).

The Santiam Rail Trail Project would build a 4.5-mile trail along Hwy. 22 from Maples Rest Area, east of Gates, to 7th Ave. in Mill City. The county said in its application the trail would be a critical link between these communities for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, which currently occurs mostly on the shoulder of Hwy. 22.

The county said the trail could be used for daily activities including by students in Gates who wished to walk or bike to school in Mill City. The trail would also connect to existing multi-use paths in Mill City, creating a larger regional network of paved walking areas.

The total cost of the project is estimated around $6.5 million, including $965,000 for preliminary designs, $482,000 for engineering and $3.4 for construction. The county is also planning for $241,000 in administration costs and a $1.45 million contingency fund.

Marion County plans to contribute $668,817 in matching funds it has set aside from state lottery revenue and funding acquired for bridge improvements after the Santiam Fire.

The Santiam Rail Trail Project is part of a larger group of projects by the Marion County Economic Development Department aimed at wildfire recovery and regional revitalization. Similar projects include dredging of Detroit Lake, downtown planning and small business loans in Detroit and Gates, and support for the burgeoning North Santiam Sewer Authority.

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