The extreme makeover of a treacherous road and equally unkempt hiking trails is finally complete.
Repairs to the Middle Fork Road improves access to more than a hundred thousand acres of new recreation areas along the Snoqualmie River.
"This new paved road replaces what many think was the worst regularly traveled road in the state. I broke three axels before I gave away my poor Subaru," Mark Boyar said with a laugh.
Boyar is a longtime volunteer and Mountains to Sound Greeenway board member who remembers worse than an unpaved road. There were the cars found shot on the Snoqualmie River bank and road signs that suffered a similar fate.
"The first phase was driving out the meth labs, the chop shops, ending the crazy shooting, the garbage, making it so families felt safe here," Boyar said.
That work has lasted nearly 20 years. The last few years have focused on repairing the Middle Fork Road, and adding infrastructure to trails like new foot bridges to reduce the environmental impact of visitors.
"They were creating boot paths and dragging kayaks and picnic gear down here. It just makes for a mess, because people are inclined to use the shortest possible route, and in the winter when it rains that becomes a chute for mud and erosion and puts sediment in the river which supplies water for our farms and our chinook salmon," said Mountains to Sound Greenway Executive Director Jon Hoekstra.
With the road work near complete, a dozen new or rehabbed recreation areas have opened along with better access to dozens of miles of hiking trails and camping sites. Still, the long-term project is far from finished.
"The next phase is making it so that we don't love it to death, it's not stomped to death. So people want to keep coming, not go to that place where there's toilet paper everywhere but where you know you're going to see fresh clean water," Boyar said.
That will cost close to $20 million for more than 60 projects. It's a lot of money, but for those who love the area, it's a priceless investment.
"It used to be fragmented. It used to be neglected. Today it's an integrated whole that's beloved by the community. We're here to celebrate that and also to reaffirm what happens when the community comes together to take care of this place that gives so much back to us," Hoekstra said.
Middle Fork Road
To learn more about how to get involved in the ongoing work, visit Mountains to Sound Greenway's website.