Today, Pima County officially opened the Willie Blake Park/KERP Bike Path and Tucson Diversion Channel Link to Aviation Pathway. Kino Environmental Restoration Project (KERP) is adjacent to the great recreational facilities at Sam Lena Park and the Mulcahy YMCA at Kino Community Center.
“The path is great, we see a lot of seniors riding on the path, walking on the path,” says Willie Blake, neighborhood activist for whom the park is named. “You used to see snakes, pigs, all kinds of wild animals in here, stolen and stripped cars, and the County has turned it into something nice.”
“This was a tumbleweed farm,” says chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors Ramón Valadez about the area where the park and new bike path is located. After the County built the park and hillside walkway in 2010, “the neighborhood asked us how they could use The Loop, and we said that we’d take a look at that,” continues Valadez, who represents District 2. “And that’s why we’re here today.”
The path is shorter than one mile, but it’s an important community connection. Nancy Cole, Project Manager, explains, “The KERP path connects to the YMCA and Kino Sports Complex, and after another mile you cross Country Club, leading to a path along the Diversion Channel to 36th and Palo Verde, the gateway to Aviation Pathway.” This short path gives the neighborhood a multi-use path connection directly to downtown Tucson.
The path also provides excellent neighborhood connections to Santa Cruz River and Julian Wash sections of The Loop. In addition, path users can take neighborhood streets to Duval Vista, and cross Kino Parkway at a traffic signal onto bike lanes and sidewalks of the UA Bio Park at The Bridges. This new development will include lab and office space, a technology high school, and a hotel and conference center. The Bridges is now home to COSTCO and Walmart.
The Pima County Department of Transportation used general fund dollars to build new pathways. As part of this project, the Kino Sports Complex funded resurfacing of KERP paths.
Supervisor Valadez joined several others on a brief bike ride through KERP and along the Diversion Channel. He says, “This is a resource for the entire community, but it’s important for the neighbors to know that it’s their resource, too.”
For more information about The Loop, visit: www.pima.gov/TheLoop.
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