The ribbon has been cut and the first phase of a multi-use paved path is ready to use.
A ceremony was held on Saturday June 10, exactly one year after the Cycle 16 Trial Society broke ground.
Phase 1 runs along Highway 16 from the Bulkley River Bridge in Smithers to Laidlaw Road.
“The thing that just occurs to me most is that it makes so much sense,” Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill told the crowd that had gathered for the opening.
“Now that it’s there, now that we see that divided pathway from the highway, it takes the danger out for little ones, our seniors, people who are maybe sometimes not that great on their bike like me. It makes it safe for all of us. It’s so sensible. And so we’re going to finish this trail to Telkwa.”
With a width of approximately three metres, the paved trail will accommodate a wide variety of users including families with strollers, cyclists, runners, athletes, roller-skiers, roller-bladers and wheelchair users.
The trail is off the highway along the right-of-way. At the Smithers end, the route follows the west side of the highway. At about midway, it will cross the highway via an underpass and follow the east side of the highway to Telkwa.
The completed pathway will be owned by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, which has been a backer and financial supporter of the project. Also lending a hand has been the provincial transportation ministry.
The total cost of the pathway is estimated at $7 million.
“We felt it was really important to sow the seeds of hope to reduce climate change in a very peaceful way,” said past Cycle 16 Trial Society president Tony Harris. “This is a recreational asset plus it’s got this other piece to it— reducing carbon footprints in commuting. So it is a gift to the youth from a bunch of old folks.”
The next step is to build a pathway to connect the bridge to the fairgrounds. Harris said that is an easy and fairly feasible project that will cost around $40,000. Phase 2 and 3 are next on the books.
Phase 2 will take the trail from Babine Lake Road to the highway rest area between Donaldson Road and Raymond Road, which is about 3.6 kilometres. This will involve an underpass crossing of Highway 16. This phase is currently in the detailed design phase.
Phase 3 will see the pathway go from the highway rest area to Midway Gas Station.
Because of some infrastructure replacement work, the Village of Telkwa has taken on the remainder of the proposed trail to Tyhee Market. The Village will also be continuing the trail to Eddy Park to join up with the existing trail along the river.