Neighborhood Pathways Program

About Neighborhood Pathways

Neighborhood Pathways

Neighborhood pathways are short connections for people walking and biking that connect streets to parks, schools and other streets where no motor vehicle connection exists.

These pathways shorten trips for people walking and biking, and they provide more comfortable, off-street routes.

The Neighborhood Pathways Program was developed as a result of a City Council initiative to improve neighborhood walkability through a program that is based on neighborhood priorities. The Council also specified that the program involve residents in making some of the improvements themselves. Here is a printable flyer about the program.

In 2017 the City did not issue a call for new Neighborhood Pathways, so we could focus on building the ones that had already been planned.

Application Process

The Neighborhood Pathways Program uses a two-stage application process. Applications received in one year are expected to be implemented in the following year. 

  • The Preliminary Application describes how to improve an existing pathway or where a pathway could be built. In this application, the neighborhood is asked to describe the value of the pathway.
  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) evaluates Preliminary Applications, based on available funding and the relative value of the project, as expressed by the neighborhood.
  • From the pool of Preliminary Applications, the BPAC requests Full Proposals.

Some things to keep in mind, as you prepare a Preliminary Application:

  • You are welcome to contact Michelle Swanson at 360.753.8575 to discuss project ideas.
  • This program is funded at $100,000-$175,000 per year and is intended for simple pathway improvements or construction.
  • We can only accept applications from a formal group or organization. That includes recognized Neighborhood Associations or service groups, referred to here as "neighborhood groups".
  • The City Council directed that this program be based on projects that neighborhoods view as valuable. To frame its discussion on the relative value of the project, the BPAC uses a set of evaluation considerations.

  • How much does the pathway improve connectivity (i.e. is there a nearby parallel street)?
  • Does the pathway cross a wetland or creek, or is it located on a steep slope, which will make the project complex to build?
  • Is there an even distribution of projects throughout the City?
  • Is the project on public or private property? If a project is on private property, we will need to pursue an easement for the public to use it.
  • Will the pathway serve people both walking and biking?  
  • Will the pathway be relatively easy to maintain?
  • Is it an appropriate scope of work, given the program's annual budget?

*These are not absolute criteria. For example, a pathway will not be rejected if it only serves pedestrians or is on a steep slope. It may be valuable because it connects to an important destination like a park or school. These considerations are used by BPAC and staff to judge the relative value of many projects throughout the City and determine which are most valuable and feasible for the program.

  • The Full Proposal describes in detail how the pathway will be improved or built, including a sketch and itemized list of materials.
  • The BPAC will request Full Proposals for up to 8 projects from the pool of Preliminary Applications.     
  • Project coordinators will need to indicate how they expect to construct the pathway: 
    1. Neighborhood: The project is completed by neighborhood volunteers, using grant funds from the City.
    2. Collaborative: The project is completed through a collaboration between neighborhood volunteers and the City.
    3. City Constructed: The project is entirely constructed by the City.
  • Staff will estimate the cost of the projects.
  • The BPAC will review Full Proposals and make a recommendation on which ones to build. 

Some things to keep in mind, if your project proceeds to the Full Proposal stage:   

  • The project coordinator will need to talk with adjacent property owners and ask for support for the project. You will be expected to continue communicating with the residents through the entire project. Many applicants use the Thurston GeoData Center website to research property ownership.
  • The neighborhood group will need to commit to 2 years of maintenance of the pathway. 
  • Your neighborhood group will need liability insurance. This helps protect your group and the City. The grant can cover the cost of insurance.
  • All members of your neighborhood group working on the pathway must be over 18.

If your project is awarded funding, the next step is to enter into an agreement with the City for the scope of the project, specifying roles and responsibilities for the neighborhood group.

Also, neighborhood volunteers will need to review a Volunteer Manual and certify that they have done so.

  • Call for projects | February
  • Preliminary Applications due | May 1st
  • BPAC reviews Preliminary Applications | June meeting
  • Full Proposals requested | July 1st
  • Full Proposals due | August 31st
  • Staff Estimates Project Costs | September/October
  • BPAC reviews Full Proposals and makes recommendations | October
  • Neighborhood groups and City finalize project agreement | December - January
  • Project Implementation | The next construction season

Neighborhood Pathways Map

This map shows current and planned neighborhood pathways, and it's a work in progress. Please let us know if there is a pathway that is missing by contacting Michelle Swanson at 360.753.8575 or


Current and Completed Projects

The next project we plan to build is the Ensign Pathway, connecting the dead end of Ensign Street to the Chehalis-Western Trail.

Completed projects include:

Pathway Neighborhood Group When Finished
Fairview Pathway Indian Creek Neighborhood Association Summer 2016    
Moore Pathway Governor Stevens Neighborhood Association
Wildwood Neighborhood Association
Fall 2015
Decatur Pathway South Westside Olympia Neighborhood Association    Fall 2015
Woodard Pathway Northwest Olympia Neighborhood Association 2014

Recently-completed Fairview Path









Contact Michelle Swanson, AICP, Senior Program Specialist, 360.753.8575,