When you hear that the construction of the Midtown Trail Project won’t start until late 2017, it may seem like people in Fresno have to wait a long time to take advantage of this new amenity benefiting the city of Fresno and the entire region.
However, city officials said the wait would have been longer if the conversation about this project had not taken place about two years ago.
“If we had not gotten the support and the funding, we were looking at the next six to eight years for this trail to be available,” said Mayor Ashley Swearengin of the Midtown Trail project. “Now, we are talking about the next two or three years. So we accelerated the time frame quite a bit.”
Now, we are talking about next two or three years. So we accelerated the time frame quite a bit.
Mayor Ashley Swearengin of the Midtown Trail project
In June, Swearengin along with City Manager Bruce Rudd, council members Steve Brandau and Paul Caprioglio, and Clovis Mayor Nathan Magsig announced the kickoff of the Midtown Trail Project that would connect the Clovis Old Town Trail with the new seven-mile trail, which extends to Blackstone and Shields Avenues in central Fresno.
According to Director of Public Works Scott Mozier, the construction of the initial segment of the trail at Blackstone and Shields avenues is planned to start late 2017 with additional segments of the trail route staring in 2018.
The seven-mile trail begins in Blackstone and Shields at the Manchester Transit Center, heads east on Shields, turn south on Millbrook Avenue to McKinley Avenue and then goes east on McKinley along the canal bank side to Clovis Avenue where it will connect to the Old Town trail which ultimately connects to the Sugar Pine Trail in north Fresno making a 17-mile near complete loop.
The project was approved by the Fresno County Transportation Authority and Fresno City Council. It will cost $9.5 million.
$9.5 million, the cost of the seven-mile Midtown trail in Central Fresno
For many, the announcement of the trail project — which is still more than a year away — might seem a little too early. But city officials felt the time was right.
“We want people to know that it’s coming, that it’s been approved and the funding is there,” said Swearengin of making the announcement of the Fresno-Clovis trail last month. “It’s been a key project for me and once the funding is in place, I know it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time to execute on the plan.”
Community health advocates welcomed the announcement of the new Fresno trail which would provide more open space and recreational amenities to residents, especially those in neighborhood where parks and green spaces are desperately needed.
“This project is a great investment for people in Central and South Fresno,” said Genoveva Islas, director of Cultiva la Salud, adding that people in that area have indicated that there weren’t a lot of safe places for residents in the area to use for recreation and play.
Islas said the Midtown Trail project is a step in the right direction.
This project is a great investment for people in Central and South Fresno.
Genoveva Islas, director of Cultiva la Salud
“Having this trail lets people simply walk a few blocks to get on to a system that is entirely dedicated to walking and biking. So they don’t have to worry about traffic, they don’t have to worry about their children being hit by cars,” Islas said. “I feel like it is a huge step in the right direction for, us as a community, as a society, prioritizing health.”
However, Islas pointed out that it would be nice if in the future the city considers connecting the McKenzie trail to the 17-mile trail system.
“It is not connected to anything, it’s a nice little trail, but it’s just a segment and it would be nice for that segment, which is a little bit further south, to be connected to this,” Islas said. “That would allow again more of a network in South Fresno that would encourage and allow for more people who are just a little bit further south than McKinley to engage in biking, and walking as a regular activity.”
“If it can’t be done immediately, it would be great for the city to prioritize making that connection to the McKenzie trail,” Islas added.
The proposed Midtown Trail will have a finished surface, with landscaping and amenities such as water fountains, benches trees, signage, etc., Swearengin said.
“The design for all the amenities of the project will take place in the next couple of months,” she said, adding that the priority was to get the agreement with Fresno Irrigation District and the funding for the construction of the trail.