$1.2-million grant to fund Arroyo trail extension
By FERNANDO DEL VALLE
HARLINGEN — The city is moving on its goal to connect its trails with its shopping district.
Along the banks of the Arroyo Colorado, the city is planning to carve a 2.4-mile trail connecting four parks and the Valle Vista Mall shopping district.
“Our goal is to connect the entire city,” Javier Mendez, the city’s parks director, said.
Soon, the city’s Arroyo Hike and Bike trail will connect C.B. Wood Park with Dixieland Park.
“A lot of communities are trying to do alternative transportation systems. Here, you can get on your bike and ride right to the business district by the mall and it’s a safe route.”
A $1.2 million grant from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation will fund construction of the latest extension of the Arroyo Hike and Bike Trail, tying McKelvey Park to Dixieland Park.
The stretch extending the trail about five miles along the arroyo’s banks is expected to draw more nature buffs, joggers and cyclists.
“There are trees along the trail so you’ll see birds and other wildlife,” Mendez said. “This extension makes it more attractive to runners who are more experienced and want a longer distance to run.”
The city plans to complete the project within two years, city spokeswoman Irma Garza stated.
The project is part of the city’s 2010 Master Trails Plan calling for about 10 construction projects featuring more than 40 miles of trails winding around the city.
The goal — to link all of the city’s parks while also connecting neighborhoods, schools and businesses.
“It’s a great extension for everyone who wants to enjoy nature and get some exercise,” Assistant City Manager Carlos Sanchez said.
The project fits into Mayor Chris Boswell’s Wellness Center initiative, which aims to make Harlingen healthier.
“We encourage people to be active and enjoy the outdoors,” Sanchez said. “All of this adds to the quality of life that we as a city want to embrace.”
The project becomes the latest stretch of the trail system since the city opened a 4.1-mile span running from Hugh Ramsey Nature Park to Texas State Technical College in 2015.
That trail connects neighborhoods and schools, offering a safe bicycle route to TSTC.
Since the Arroyo Hike and Bike Trail opened in 2000 as a 2.7-mile stretch tying McKelvey to Arroyo Park, the city has developed 17.4 miles of trails built for jogging, biking and nature treks.
“In the past few years, there has been an explosive popularity of outdoor activities such as running and cycling,” Garza stated. “This is proof that people are striving to live a healthier life, which is excellent since there is a huge challenge in our culture to fight obesity and diabetes, especially in children and the elderly.”