Trail blazers

Formerly overweight and nutritionally challenged, Patton says he now is part of Oklahoma City’s movement to create a healthier population.

Part of his healthy regimen includes running on the miles of multi-use trails that weave throughout the metro area. From Bluff Creek trails to the 9.5-mile loop trail around Lake Hefner, Patton says the trails are a big reason he has been successful at losing weight.

“The number one reason the trails are important is because of safety. It’s also a matter of convenience,” he says. “I know how long the trails are, and it’s nice to have access to the facilities along the trail like lighting and restrooms.”

Thanks to an Oklahoma City 2007 bond initiative package and the new 10-year, $777 million MAPS 3
project, hundreds of miles of new trails and sidewalks are providing
options for citizens to lace up their sneakers and head outdoors.

“The
trail systems continue to grow, and we are constructing new trails all
the time as the 2007 bond issue continues,” says Jennifer McClintock
with the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department. “For instance,
the West River Trail will begin construction before the end of the year,
and the bond project includes 350 miles of new sidewalks and paths.”

Trails
under construction include Oklahoma River Trail’s north side route,
which will include an inlet and a connective walking path between the
Oklahoma River and the Bricktown Canal.

The
Tinker-Draper Trail is a seven-mile trail that starts south of the
Oklahoma River at Eastern Avenue. The trail winds through Del City to
connect with the Del City Trail and continues through to S.E. 44th and
Sooner Road, where it swings southeast to North Lake Draper Drive and
Midwest Boulevard. The trail connects with Lake Draper Drive.

The
Tinker-Draper Trail is currently under construction. It is being built
as part of a municipal agreement with the City of Del City since parts
of the trail run through Del City,” says McClintock. “The Bricktown-OK
River Trail connection is currently under construction with a projected
open date sometime in October. The project is being done concurrently
with the new Bricktown- River boat inlet, so the two projects hopefully
will open about the same time.”

The
Katy Trail, with new construction between N.E. 23rd and N.E. 30th
streets, reopened this spring. The trail follows the old Katy Railway
line between N.E. Fourth Street and N. Grand Boulevard, just east of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

In
all, the city claims 75 miles of trails in its system, which also
includes the Bert Cooper Trails (Lake Hefner), the Earlywine Trail, the
Brock Creek Trail, the Hefner-to-Overholser Trail, the North Grand
Boulevard Trail, the Lightning Creek Trail, the South Grand Trail and
the Oklahoma River Trails.

All of the trails are part of the OKC Trails Master Plan, which was approved in 1997.

Under the MAPS 3 project, $39.5 million was earmarked for trail and path development.

The
first MAPS 3 trail project is the West River Trail, which will create
nine miles of multi-use trails along the North Canadian River that will
connect with Overholser Trail. The proposed route follows the river
between Meridian Ave. and N.W. 10th at Eagle Road.

Other
MAPS 3 trail projects include the I-44 West trail that connects Lake
Hefner to the North Canadian River and the Lake Draper and Airport
Trail, which includes a loop trail around Lake Stanley Draper that stems
from the Grand Boulevard Trail to the Earlywine Trail.

“Sidewalks
are also connected to the street improvements in the city, and there
are 350 miles of sidewalks and trails in the 2007 bond package,” says
McClintock. “The voters and the city think it is important to provide a
safe place to exercise and get outside. We are also finding a lot of
people are using the trails to commute to and from work.”

The
goal is to connect all areas of the city with multi-use and walking
paths, McClintock says, giving residents an avenue to explore and
exercise.

“It’s a
quality-of-life issue. We try to keep our young people and graduates
here, and they want these kinds of things,” she says. “They want to get
on their bikes or take a long run in a safe area that’s not just
streets.”

Patton hopes his fellow citizens will use the trails and strive for healthier lifestyles.

“We are not a healthy city overall, and having the trails system makes it easier for people to exercise,” he says.

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