Trailblazing the SCJ Way

The outdoors has become a refuge for many as the pandemic wears on. From reducing cabin fever to treating Zoom fatigue, spacious parks and beaches provide options for socially distanced picnics, and campgrounds at reduced capacity are giving families space to breathe.

Multi-use trails are also a popular outdoor destination. Many are six feet wide or wider, allowing safe distancing from others, and opportunities to connect with friends and family while getting some exercise.

Caitlin Mehall and husband, Matthew, hiking near Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

For many on the SCJ team, hitting the trail is sometimes for both pleasure and business. And getting to contribute to projects they’ll be enjoying down the road brings added satisfaction for our cyclists, hikers, walkers, and runners.

Our role helping the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe with the Olympic Discovery Trail, a 130-mile multi-modal trail spanning from the Puget Sound to the Washington coast, recently took SCJ’s Caitlin Mehall to the site.

A project engineer in our Wenatchee office, Caitlin gathered information for trail alignment analysis and design, critical areas review, and permitting. As the project progresses, SCJ will also be providing construction support, too.

Caitlin and her husband, both outdoor enthusiasts, jumped at the chance to make a weekend out of the trip. “We love to travel, so a work trip to the Olympic Peninsula was a much-welcomed excuse to explore new places together,” said Caitlin. While there, they went camping and paddle boarding, and visited Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.

A rendering for the Yelm-Tenino Trail Extension Feasibility Study

Just down the road from our Lacey office, we worked on the Yelm-Tenino Trail Extension Feasibility Study, evaluating options for extending this shared-use path created through the Rails-to-Trails program.

Led by engineer and project manager Whitney Holm, the project included community engagement, public vision development, and value-based alternative analysis. Whitney and her transportation design team also prepared the preliminary and final feasibility reports.

“The proposed trail can now be included in future budgets,” said Whitney. “And when built, it will be a well-used extension to an already popular trail that many SCJers and locals enjoy daily.”

Rick Hastings out in the field

In Eastern Washington, our Spokane team is helping answer the question, “What comes next for the Palouse to Cascades Trail?” SCJ Senior Planner Rick Hasting says, “Spurred by controversy, we were tapped to bring together agencies and folks from all perspectives to create consensus on eastern portions of the trail, helping advance one of the most important cross-state, rail-trail project in the U.S.” This project, for the Washington State Department of Commerce, is a good fit for us given our experience with small-town needs and rural conditions.

SCJers from any of our business groups might be hitting the trails on any given day, happily shaking up the work-from-home routine. “Designing the trails that we walk, run, and bike on with our families adds to the work-life balance at SCJ,” said Caitlin. “Every trip in the outdoors leaves me inspired to design the next trail and help our communities safely get outside.”

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