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Fri, May 24

New trail link opens between downtown, rodeo
Downtown to rodeo connection

A new footbridge behind the Carl’s Jr. on Miller Valley Road gives pedestrians and cyclists a convenient way to cross Miller Creek. The bridge – an Eagle Scout project by local Boy Scout Lewis Brownlie – is just one of the recent improvements to the Greenways Trail, which now provides a walking and biking connection between the downtown area and the Prescott Rodeo Grounds. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

A new footbridge behind the Carl’s Jr. on Miller Valley Road gives pedestrians and cyclists a convenient way to cross Miller Creek. The bridge – an Eagle Scout project by local Boy Scout Lewis Brownlie – is just one of the recent improvements to the Greenways Trail, which now provides a walking and biking connection between the downtown area and the Prescott Rodeo Grounds. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

As a high school student, J.C. Trujillo remembers walking to the rodeo grounds often from his family’s home near downtown Prescott.

So Trujillo – now the general manager of Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo – sees a recently completed pedestrian link between the two community hubs as a positive step.

“I did that a lot when I was in high school; you could do it then along the old railroad tracks,” he said of the relatively short trek between downtown to the rodeo area. “That’s great that they’ve put that together.”

Local trails advocate George Sheats explained that with the recent completion of a new footbridge behind the Carl’s Jr. restaurant on Miller Valley Road, as well as trail improvements on the other side of Miller Valley Road and ongoing work on a new bridge near Madison Street, a walking-and-biking route is now available between downtown and the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.

That could come in handy for rodeo fans who prefer to walk to performances from their homes or the downtown area.

Work has been going on for years on the Prescott Greenways – a system of trails that follows Granite and Miller creeks in the downtown area.

While some progress occurred in about 2010, not all of the needed easements were available from adjoining property owners then, said Sheats, who served on a Greenways Committee.

By about 2013, though, the committee was able to get permission from all of the property owners through license agreements and donations, which, in turn, opened the door for continued work on the trail.

Helping the process along was the volunteer work by local Boy Scout Lewis Brownlie, who coordinated installation of a new pedestrian bridge across Miller Creek behind Carl’s Jr., as his Eagle Scout project.

The bridge, which was completed in fall of 2016, provides an easy link to the underpass under Miller Valley Road. From there, Sheats said it is just a short walk to the rodeo grounds. In all, Sheats estimates the walk from downtown to the rodeo grounds at about one mile.

And Prescott Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes pointed out that even more trails are available to those who want to continue on past the rodeo grounds. He pointed out that within a quarter-mile or so on sidewalks is the Westridge Drive start of the city’s Centennial Trail, a two-mile route that features panoramic views of the surrounding area, and prehistoric petroglyphs.

“I think these links are important,” Baynes said. “Any trails that connect to other trails provide for alternative transportation.”

That was apparent Wednesday morning, June 21, along a section of the Greenways Trail near Granite Creek Park.

While a crew from contractor Ridder Concrete worked on installing the rebar for a new concrete box culvert for a walking bridge over Miller Creek, a number of pedestrians passed by along the shady Greenways Trail.

Shawn Saylor, who lives on Cortez Street in the downtown area, said he uses the Greenways often on his way to work near Whipple Street, as well as for shopping in the Gail Gardner Way Walmart area.

“I take it to and from work,” Saylor said, adding that he likes the shady riparian atmosphere along the creeks.

Likewise, Autumn Fisher said she uses the trail on an almost daily basis to get from her nearby home to her downtown job. Although she typically does not head the other direction toward the rodeo grounds, Fisher said she likes the idea of the new link.

While much of the Greenways work has been done by volunteers, including the Over the Hill Gang trail-building group, the city has overseen and aided the projects through contributions and grant awards.

Baynes said his department provided a $2,000 match from his department’s partnering account for Brownie’s bridge project. And the new bridge near Granite Creek Park – the Madison Street Bridge – is being funded through a $50,000 federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), administered by the city.

Sheats noted that the Madison Street Bridge serves the Dexter neighborhood, which is eligible for CDBG funding because of its low-to-moderate-income status.

Local contractor Tom Devereaux, who used his extensive experience with culvert construction to help with the design of the project, said the Madison Street culvert is being built to handle two feet of free-flowing water in the creek, as well as to withstand water running over the top during flooding situations.

While the entire trail route between downtown and the rodeo grounds is now open, Baynes and Sheats say some improvements will be added in coming weeks.

For instance, the city plans to install lighting in the underpasses – a feature that they say should help to discourage people from camping or sleeping under the bridges.

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