HARLINGEN — More than 20 years ago, community leaders envisioned a network of nature trails winding along the Arroyo Colorado, tying neighborhoods, schools and retail centers.
In 2000, they opened the Arroyo Hike and Bike Trail, a 2.1-mile asphalt trail running along the banks of the arroyo from McKelvey to Arroyo Park.
During the next 15 years, the city’s trail system was stretching 17 miles along Hugh Ramsey Nature Park and part of the World Birding Center, linking neighborhoods to Texas State Technical College.
After years of planning, city commissioners last week gave the go-ahead for a 1.6-mile trail winding along the arroyo to Dixieland Park.
“This is going to be a great addition to our parks and trails system,” Mayor Chris Boswell said during a Sept. 2 meeting.
Commissioners awarded a $1.4 million contract to G&G Contractors, the lowest bidder of five companies presenting proposals.
The company’s experience includes the construction of trails, Javier Mendez, the city’s parks director, told commissioners.
“There are several projects that he’s done that were trail projects,” he said, adding the contractor has overseen trail projects for Hidalgo County, Mission and the Mission school district.
To help fund the project, the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation awarded the city a $1.2 million grant about two years ago.
“We express again our appreciation to the Legacy Foundation for their generous support of the project and their interest in promoting healthy lifestyles for the people of Harlingen,” Boswell said.
After the city spent about $230,000 to fund the project’s environmental reviews, engineering studies and construction plans, last week the Harlingen Community Improvement Board tapped $500,000 to help fund the trail’s construction while awaiting a 60-day public comment period.
As part of the project, the contractor will build a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail winding 1.6 miles along the arroyo’s banks across three pedestrian bridges from the Boggus Ford dealership to Dixieland Park.
Construction, expected to begin late this month, will run through the end of May, Assistant City Manager Carlos Sanchez stated.
The project is part of the city’s Trails Master Plan, calling for more than 40 miles of trails.
As part of the master plan, officials plan a network of trails connecting the city’s parks and retail centers, linking Texas State Technical College to bicycle routes while giving birders and nature buffs scenic tours along parts of the World Birding Center at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park.