John Wayne Trail tunnels closed

A set of tunnels in Iron Horse State Park, part of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, have been closed by the Washington State Parks Commission.

Washington State Parks hired the engineering firm of Kleinfelder, Inc., to conduct a safety review of falling debris hazards in the tunnels. The firm determined that tunnels 46 through 50 all contain segments that have moderate, high or very high hazard ratings.

For the safety of recreational users, the commission decided to close these tunnels until further notice. There is no estimated reopening date, although the agency is exploring options for repair. The closed tunnels run from Snoqualmie Pass to Kittitas, and include Boylston Tunnel No. 46, east of Kittitas; Picnic Area Tunnel No. 47, west of Thorpe; Easton Tunnel No. 48; Whittier Tunnel No. 49, west of Easton; and Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel No. 50.

The report from Kleinfelder contains options for short-term action steps to reduce areas with high or very high hazard ratings to a moderate rating. The report also estimates costs to bring all tunnels to a low hazard rating at $6 million. Funds for repairs have been included in agency budget requests for the 2009-2011 biennium.

Iron Horse State Park is a 1,612-acre park that was once part of the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad. More than 100 miles of trail extends from Cedar Falls to the Columbia River. High trestles provide spectacular views of the valley below.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 121 parks and several recreation programs, including long-distance trails. The 95-year-old park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.

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