Amy Towell and Steve Rumrill of Moab rode their bikes toward Highway 128 on the multi-use path north of Moab along Highway 191. Tom Haraden/ Moab Sun News

The multi-use trail north of Moab along Highway 191 is now open to pedestrians and bicyclists. The concrete trail begins at the intersection of 500 West and Highway191 and now ends near the intersection of Highway 191 and State Route 128.

“The goal is to allow people to jump on the trail and stay off the highway,” said Moab city engineer Andrus said. “You can go out there and not have to worry.”

This is step one in a three-step plan.

Step two is an underpass at State Route 128 that will allow pedestrians and bicyclists to reach the Lions Park trail hub without having to cross traffic. This gives non-motorized travelers access to the Colorado River pedestrian bridge and the Moab Canyon Pathway. The eight-mile Moab Canyon Pathway connects to Arches National Park and bike trails on State Route 313 that lead to Dead Horse Point and the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park.

Step three is to extend a multi-use trail from the Lions Park hub to Negro Bill Canyon on State Route 128.

“This isn’t just a tourist-oriented path,” Andrus said. “This is a huge asset for all of us.”

Moab city councilman Gregg Stucki expressed his appreciation for the multi-use trail. At the July 10 council meeting he related a story of how he and his children rode their bikes on Highway 191 to the newly built Colorado River pedestrian bridge in 2008. He related how he worried about his children’s safety as cars and trucks sped by and thought, “Someday we’ll have a decent place to ride.”

Carol Nordstrom and her family, from North Smyrna Beach, Florida, visited Moab last week. Her husband and older son rode motorcycles on the La Sal Mountains, leaving her and her younger son Luca to find something to do on their own. The two rode their bikes on the path to the Colorado River on Saturday.

“It’s so good not being on the road. We felt secure,” Nordstrom said. “We went further than we otherwise would have.”

The City of Moab opted to spend an additional $24,600 for a concrete path because concrete has a lower maintenance cost than asphalt and fits in better with other city pathways, such as the Mill Creek Parkway. The City of Moab will assume maintenance responsibility of the trail.

As of the June 26 Moab city council meeting, the estimated current project cost was $767,100 to be paid by the Utah Department of Transportation, the City of Moab and Grand County. The City of Moab’s commitment was $74,600 and Grand County’s was $78,900.

A Connect Trails to Parks program through the National Park Service granted $36,643 for the path. The Utah Department of Transportation is responsible for the remainder through a Transportation Enhancement fund.

The path is open for pedestrians and bicyclists to use, but workers may be finishing a few details, such as making adjustments for drainage or installing signage over the next week.

The trail is part of the 2001 a Moab/ Grand County North Corridor Gateway Plan, which expressed in its vision statement “as the primary gateway to Moab the north corridor should be welcoming and friendly to pedestrians, bikers, residents, and visitors alike.”

The concrete path will connect with the Moab Canyon Pathway when the underpass to Lions Park hub at State Route 128 is completed. This will give pedestrians and bicyclists a total of 10.5 miles of paved path that never crosses traffic from the north end of Moab.

“The new trail is terrific,” said Tracy Reed, owner of the Chile Pepper Bike Shop. “It sends a message to our visitors as they drive into town that we are a very bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly community.”

Editor’s note: This is part one in a three-part series. Part two will feature the Lions Park trail hub. Part three will feature the multi-use trail from Lions Park to Negro Bill Canyon.