Assistant City Manager Scott Mozier has good news for Fresnans wondering about the status of the Midtown Trail project.
“It’s coming together,” Mozier told me in mid-July.
To be more precise, planning for the trail’s first segment – the half-mile stretch along Shields Avenue between Fresno and First streets near Manchester Center – is proceeding without apparent trouble.
The public comment period recently ended for a key environmental document connected to construction of the segment.
Mozier said designs plans for the first segment are 60% to 90% finished. City officials hope to break ground for construction in this fiscal year. Mozier said that might be Spring 2018.
On another front, Mozier said, “we’ve been meeting with the Fresno Irrigation District to finalize a master trails agreement for bankside trails in the metropolitan area.”
As you may remember, the Midtown Trail project was unveiled amid considerable hoopla in June 2016. Then-Mayor Ashley Swearengin and top city officials (plus then-Clovis Mayor Nathan Magsig) gathered at a fire station near Shields/Fresno Street to trumpet a new future for urban bicyclists/walkers.
“As a result of this major project, we will connect Central Fresno, the city of Clovis and North Fresno,” Swearengin said. “We’re finally providing the infrastructure that not only makes walking and biking more convenient, it also marks the opportunity for more transportation options that can make our community a healthier place to live.”
Mayor Lee Brand, a fitness buff himself, is a strong supporter of urban trails. So, too, is Council Member Steve Brandau, who promised last June to someday to go for a spin along the Midtown Trail on his bicycle.
The Midtown Trail will cover 7.1 miles and cost $9.5 million. Much of the trail will be along the banks of two FID canals – Herndon Canal and Mill Ditch. The longest piece of the trail will be along McKinley Avenue between Millbrook Avenue and Clovis Avenue. The trail at Clovis Avenue will then head north and eventually connect with the Clovis Old Town Trail. The result would be a 17-mile network of high-quality trails.
Mozier said construction of the Fresno Street-to-First Street segment would cost about $800,000. The money is in hand, he added.
According to city documents, the segment of Midtown Trail between Fresno Street and First Street will include “an asphalt concrete trail, concrete curb, street lighting, traffic signal improvements, crosswalk, barrier fence between the trail and the canal, and landscaping and irrigation improvements.” This will be on the north bank of Herndon Canal.
I took a walk on Thursday along the unimproved north bank. There were lots of footprints in the dirt. The Midtown Trail when completed is sure to get heavy traffic. I hope City Hall has a good maintenance plan in place.
The Midtown Trail is part of the city’s new Active Transportation Plan. The plan calls for the construction of more than 900 miles of bicycle lanes, routes, paths and bikeways plus more than 800 miles of sidewalks. That’s a lot of infrastructure. It’s safe to say the plan will take considerable money and time.
But we’ve got to start somewhere. The first half-mile of the Midtown Trail is as good a place as any.
Said Mozier: “We are moving.”