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Grant will help Elmer City access trail


Residents of Elmer City could develop a healthier lifestyle as a result of a $250,000 grant the town received last week for a plan that calls for a trail along the Lower River Road that will link some town streets to the Down River Trail.

Elmer City’s “Complete Streets” project likely will be done in 2018, Public Works Director Jimmer Tillman said last week.

The work plan, shared with the town council last Thursday, calls for links from the town to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Down River Trail system along the Columbia River.

One of the key elements of the “Complete Streets” grant from the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Improvement Board is providing multiple ways of walking and biking from the town to the existing 6-mile-long river trail.

The thought behind the plan, according to Tillman, is to “gain safe access to the Down River Trail, from throughout the town.”

He stated that the town is still working on some of the aspects of the linking trail system.

The plan would promote signage throughout the town to help residents access a paved trail system along the Lower River Road leading to two crosswalks, where walkers and bikers could cross the road and link up to the Down River Trail.

“We considered the health aspects of the plan,” Tillman said. “If we made the connection easy for people, we thought more people would walk for their health.”

The “Complete Streets” designation and grant is to expand the use of streets so walkers and bikers can use the same streets and sidewalks.

The town has three years to use the grant funds.

“We expect to receive the funding in March,” Tillman stated.

Tillman also noted that town clerk Gary Benton played a key role in getting the grant. “He helped with the ideas and the preparing of material for the grant application,” Tillman said.

First, the town will need to have engineers develop a working plan for signage and a five-foot-wide asphalt trail along the opposite side of the Lower River Road from the Down River Trail. Two marked crossings are planned to cross the Lower River Road at access points.

”I don’t think the work will get done this year, but we will have to wait and see,” Tillman stated.

After this project is done, the town plans to apply for a $500,000 grant, Tillman explained, to continue its access connections to the Down River Trail.

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