City repairs Jemtegaard Trail after vandalism

Washougal officials say damage posed ‘serious risks to safety of trail users’

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The city of Washougal recently repaired a section of Jemtegaard Trail after the pedestrian path was vandalized on multiple occasions earlier this year.

“Instances of vandalism” in late March and early April resulted in the destruction of safety fencing and “caution” signage, and pieces of the trail’s infrastructure being thrown into Gibbons Creek, according to a news release issued by the City.

“Such actions pose serious risks to the safety of trail users, including students and community members,” the news release states.

The City was able to salvage and re-use the fencing and signage, which it installed in 2023 to notify pedestrians and cyclists to stay on the asphalt path due to nearby creek bank erosion, and “clean up” the vandalism at “very minimal cost, short of labor to remark the area,” according to Washougal Public Works Director Trevor Evers, who said the City did not file a police report.

“We urge all trail users and families with students who frequent this path to recognize that tampering with safety measures jeopardizes the safety of everyone who relies on this route,” the City stated in its news release.

The City also is moving forward with its work to repair the creek bank’s erosion, according to Evers.

“The City has been monitoring the erosion and undermining routinely,” Evers said. “Currently, there is no discussion of closing the trail. However, the creek is getting close to the edge of the asphalt trail. The City is working with the designer to evaluate current conditions to determine safety concerns.”

The city agreed to a $69,854 contract with Portland-based PBS Engineering and Environmental to repair the bank in October 2023, and will “hire a contractor once design is complete,” according to Evers.

“A portion of the existing trail will be realigned away from Gibbons Creek to avoid trail substrate failure due to the undercutting action of Gibbons Creek,” said Evers, who estimated that the project will cost $335,000 and be completed by autumn 2025.

“I think it’s a very important trail, especially for students,” Washougal Mayor David Stuebe told The Post-Record in October 2023. “I would like to be able to see (the erosion situation) rectified, but we have to do it the right way, and sometimes it costs a little bit of money.”

The trail, which was completed in April 2021, links Jemtegaard Middle School and Columbia Gorge Elementary School to Sunset View Road, where it becomes a sidewalk that connects to the Sunset Ridge neighborhood. The path includes a small bridge and is fully lighted, with a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon at the intersection of Sunset View Road and Sunset Ridge Drive.