Summer construction project planned near Foothills Trail, Puyallup River

Pierce County is inviting feedback from Foothills Trail users and neighbors on how a summer construction project along the Puyallup River near McMillin may impact them.

Construction on a new side channel on the west side of the river will begin in June and last through the summer. Trucks will access the project site via South Fork Road, which crosses the trail just north of the McMillin Trailhead and State Route 162 bridge over the Puyallup River. Flaggers will be onsite to direct both truck traffic and trail users. Trail users may be stopped for short periods of time while a truck crosses over the trail.

“To find ways to minimize this impact, Pierce County wants to hear from the public about their use of the trail during the summer,” said Harold Smelt, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities surface water manager. “We especially want to hear about times and dates when trail use is high, so we can try to avoid heavy truck traffic during peak times.”

Staff will set up a booth from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sat., April 6 at the McMillin Trailhead parking lot to share information about the project and gather suggestions from trail users on how to minimize impacts from the truck crossings. The parking lot is located at approximately 140th Street East and State Route 162, just south of the bridge over the Puyallup River.

A project sign will be installed at the project entrance to provide updates about the work.

A 2,000-foot long side channel will be constructed on the west side of the Puyallup River, which will be the first phase in reconnecting the river to the floodplain. According to Pierce County officials, it will provide high quality salmon habitat and help to reduce some of the flood risk near the High Cedars Golf Course. Extensive hydrologic modeling was used to develop a design that will reduce pressure from the river on the east side of the river and ensure properties on the top of the valley wall on the west side of the river will not be affected by erosion.

“The project will reduce some of the flooding pressures on the neighborhoods along the east side of the Puyallup River and provide salmon habitat,” said Smelt. “When additional funds become available, the side channel will be extended further north.”

The project will be completed in multiple phases. Pierce County received a $719,000 grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to design and construct the first phase of the side channel. The county’s cost share amount for the grant project is $145,600.

Due to environmental regulations, construction must be done during the summer to avoid impacts to spawning salmon.

Trail users may provide feedback online at, by contacting project manager Randy Brake at (253) 798-4651 or or outreach coordinator Tiffany O’Dell at (253) 798-2468 or, by mail to Pierce County Public Works and Utilities Surface Water Management, 2702 S 42nd St., Suite 201, Tacoma, WA 98409, or by filling out a survey online.