Elected officials, non-profit organizations, community groups, local businesses, and trail advocates from Pierce, King, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties announced the formation of Leafline, a coalition to connect Central Puget Sound with an integrated, equitable network of regional trails.
The Leafline Trails Coalition is committed to expanding and connecting trails in the four-county Central Puget Sound region, providing more equitable access to safe places to walk and bike, offering reliable and healthy transportation options, and growing the region’s economy by adding jobs, connecting businesses to customers and employees, and providing millions of dollars in healthcare savings.
There are nearly 450 miles of trails in the four-county region however there has never before been a concerted effort to integrate trails across jurisdictional boundaries and Puget Sound.
The coalition has four objectives:
- Build a resilient trails network that offers safe, reliable, and healthy transportation options that connect to high-capacity transit.
- Connect more communities to the region’s trails, prioritizing those communities that are currently underserved.
- Strengthen the region’s economy by creating jobs and tourism destinations and better connecting commuters and customers alike.
- Improve public health outcomes by providing more convenient, equitable access to outdoor exercise, active transportation, and open space.
Evolving from the King County Regional Trails Summit in October 2018, the Leafline Trails Coalition is inspired by and modeled after a national movement of trail coalitions that harness their collective impact by leveraging resources, fostering partnerships, and growing public awareness of trails. The Leafline Trails Coalition has already identified 11 projects that are ready for investment in planning, design, and construction.
Infrastructure investments in regional trails have produced positive, lasting results for decades in the Central Puget Sound region. Major employers – including REI and Facebook, who recently contributed $2 million to connect the Eastrail – have located near trails in part because they offer healthy, reliable commuter options. Knitting together a four-county network of regional trails will better connect communities that are currently excluded from economic opportunities.
The Leafline Trails Coalition will also connect more residents to high-capacity transit. The emerging 42-mile-long Eastrail – one of the north-south pillars of Leafline – will connect to four of the 10 Link light rail stations that Sound Transit will open on the Eastside in 2023.
Multiple studies have quantified the benefits of regional trail investments in the state:
- Active transportation translates into more jobs per dollar than any other type of transportation
- Trails in Washington likely provide $5.9 billion in environmental benefits per year
- Improving access to trails could help close the health gap in Washington
- Completing a single trail in Pierce County could result in nearly 3 million fewer miles traveled by car each year
Regional trails produce both immediate and lasting benefits:
- Trails cost less to build and maintain than roads and reduce air and noise pollution
- Reducing the number of car trips improves water quality and promotes healthy habitat by reducing the amount of motor oil and metals that wash directly into streams, rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound
- Having access to a regional trail system can reduce a resident’s transportation costs
Coalition membership is open to local governments, non-profit organizations, community groups, and local businesses who support the completion of a comprehensive trails network. Members keep the coalition informed about issues in the trails community, participate in coalition meetings and activities, and benefit from a learning community of trail builders and enthusiasts. Together, we advocate for a shared vision of a regional trails network in the Central Puget Sound region.
Learn more about the Leafline Trails Coalition here.
Chad Lewis, Department of Natural Resources and Parks
Claire Martini, Leafline Trails Coalition Manager