Modesto has secured the funding to extend the Virginia Corridor — the paved trail popular with walkers, joggers and bicyclists — by roughly an additional three-quarters of a mile, from Woodrow Avenue to the Hetch Hetchy Trail at Semallon Drive.
Parks Planning and Development Manager Nathan Houx said construction could start in 2020 and be completed in 2021. This project is Phase 7 of the corridor and includes building an under- or overpass at Standiford Avenue. Houx said the city will seek public input in deciding how to cross Standiford.
Extending the corridor is welcome news for a 61-year-old retiree who has been walking it, Monday through Friday, for about the past six months on the advice of his doctor.
"That sounds good to me," said the man as he finished his walk Wednesday at Woodrow Avenue, adding he likes the scenery, being outdoors and chatting with fellow walkers. He said it beats walking on a treadmill at the gym.
The Virginia Corridor runs along the old Tidewater Southern-Union Pacific Railroad corridor and starts near downtown at College Avenue and heads north. This latest phase will bring the corridor near its completion of roughly 4.2 miles at Pelandale Avenue.
The City Council's Safety and Communities Committee on Monday recommended the full council accept $3.2 million from California's Urban Greening Grant Program. Modesto's grant application was among the 39 out of 143 applications that the state decided to fund, according to a state news release.
Houx said the council could accept the grant in June.
Phase 7 will cost $4.5 million, and the funding will come from the grant plus $1.3 million in state and federal funding dedicated for these types of projects. The project includes planting trees and other landscaping, putting in benches, lights and other amenities, as well as storm-water drainage.
Houx said a key component of this phase is that it connects the Virginia Corridor with the roughly 3-mile-long Hetch Hetchy Trail, which runs west along Standiford and ends at Sisk Avenue near Vintage Faire Mall. This will give walkers, joggers and bicyclists a safe way to travel from north Modesto to near downtown.
Modesto ran into difficulties when it built the Virginia Corridor's last phase, from Bowen to Woodrow avenues about three years ago, with the work taking much longer than expected. But interim City Manager Joe Lopez said Modesto will learn from its mistakes and not repeat them.