MODESTO -- Bicyclists, joggers and parents pushing strollers now can travel farther on the Virginia Corridor trail in Modesto.
A new section of the trail, costing $3.8 million, officially will open to the public after an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting Saturday.
Walking the dog also is a top activity on the trail, and those people will have the additional option of using the Modesto Dog Park on West Morris Avenue starting Saturday. Modesto's first publicly owned dog park will open at 10 a.m. after being closed for 12 weeks to let the reseeded grass fill in.
The addition extends the Virginia Corridor trail from Granger Avenue north to Bowen Avenue, with an overcrossing at Briggsmore Avenue.
City officials were quick to point out that federal air quality grants and other grant funds paid for the recent trail extension. No funding was taken from public safety or other essential services.
The Virginia bike path is known as a Class I bicycle and pedestrian trail, replacing the abandoned Tidewater Southern branch line of the Union Pacific railroad. The newest section has amenities such as landscaping, sprinklers, benches and trash receptacles, as well as the bridge providing a safe crossing over Briggsmore.
With the latest section, the Virginia trail stretches almost two miles from College Avenue near Modesto Junior College to Bowen. The city has plans to extend the trail as far north as Pelandale Avenue for an overall distance of 4.2 miles.
Grants made it possible
City Manager Greg Nyhoff said the city could not have built the trail extension in these difficult times without grant funding. The bike path is part of a Non-Motorized Transportation Plan that encourages forms of travel that reduce street congestion and don't pollute the air.
"It's exciting to see this project come to fruition," Nyhoff said in a news release.
The trail officially will open for public use after the 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. At 10:30 a.m., officials will dedicate the Handcar sculpture that overhangs the trail near the Roseburg Square shopping center.
The sculpture, depicting two men using a handcar to travel the railroad, was created by Modesto artist Steve Mudge.
The dog park on West Morris Avenue, at Enslen Avenue, was developed by dog lovers who volunteered their time and energy.
In an effort that started in August 2010, supporters raised about $107,000 for park improvements and additional money for a fund to pay for ongoing maintenance, said Connie Pinkston, president of Friends of Modesto Dog Park.
The project received a $20,000 grant from the Petco Foundation and support from other sponsors. Volunteers held a fund-raising walk and other events to raise money for converting the former Elk Park.
"The park was paid for with no taxpayer dollars," Pinkston said. "Sometimes it was just standing outside a grocery store holding a bucket."
The dog park opened briefly earlier this year and then was closed for the reseeding. It has areas for large and small dogs, drinking fountains for people and canines, benches, a shade structure, sidewalk, parking and dog waste receptacles.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.