Fresno and Clovis leaders marked the start of a project to connect trails in the cities with a 7.1-mile segment from Blackstone and Shields to the Clovis Old Town Trail.
The Midtown Trail is estimated to cost $9.5 million, and is part of an “Active Transportation Plan” for Fresno to develop a network of bike and pedestrian trails.
Fresno City Councilmen Paul Caprioglio and Steve Brandau, City Manager Bruce Rudd and Public Works director Scott Mozier joined Mayor Ashley Swearengin for a news conference Monday in central Fresno to announce the start of the project. Clovis Mayor Nathan Magsig joined Fresno city officials to support the project.
“I know how much everyone loves standing on the blacktop on a fantastic June day in Fresno, so I can just go on all day, right?” Swearengin joked as she began the afternoon news conference, which was held in the parking lot of Fresno Fire Station 5, near Shields Avenue and Fresno Street, an area adjacent to the planned trail.
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The Midtown Trail was approved by both the Fresno City Council and the Fresno County Transportation Authority.
The 7.1-mile segment featured at Monday’s news conference is “the biggest missing piece” of a 17-mile loop from central Fresno through Clovis and on to north Fresno, Swearengin said.
The new segment will begin at Blackstone and Shields at the Manchester Transit Center, head east on Shields, turn south on Millbrook to McKinley, and then go east on McKinley all along the canal bank to Clovis Avenue. From there, it will connect to the Clovis Old Town Trail, then on to the Sugar Pine Trail in north Fresno.
Funding for the $9.5 million trail is coming partly from grants provided by state and federal transportation departments.
In addition, the Fresno County Transportation Authority altered its bylaws to allow maintenance funds to be used for the project, Brandau said. In May, the city requested an advance of $4.6 million of Measure C funds.
The Measure C funds come from a half-cent sales tax passed in 1986 and extended in 2006 to fund improvements in the county’s transportation system, not from the Measure C passed this month that calls for a $485 million bond for the State Center Community College District.
Rudd said the trail would help improve the city’s air quality and health.
“For those of us who have lived here our whole lives, we know this community and this region is challenged with a number of issues, ranging from bad air quality and other environmental challenges that impact the quality of life and the health of many of our residents,” Rudd said.
“We all know that riding a bike or going for a walk not only provides an immediate air quality benefit, but provides individuals with a health benefit and exercise.”
Mozier said the city is planning on late 2017 for the start of the initial segment of the trail at Blackstone and Shields avenues and construction on additional parts of the route would be started in early 2018.
Rudd thanked officials from other cities around Fresno County for supporting the Midtown Trail Project.
“Some of this stuff has to happen with collaboration among all these cities, especially when you’re looking at a very competitive environment for transportation funding,” Rudd said. He acknowledged city and county officials who agreed “this is a good project – a little creative with its financing, but the end product and end result is something we can all get behind.”