New link in Tucson river park loop

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Local cyclists are now celebrating a new phase in Pima County's river park projects. The county linked two of the paths stretching 23 miles east to west.

Green grass, shade trees and fresh air draw cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts to the path running along the Santa Cruz riverbed.  And thanks to a Pima County project, they can now go the extra mile.

"We've connected the Santa Cruz pathway up to the Rillito pathway for a distance of about 23 total miles," said Matthew Zoll from the Pima County Dept. of Transportation.

A new portion of the loop will take you from the Santa Cruz up to River and over to Craycroft.

Eleven-year-old Mia Vega is tested out her new big girl bike Friday.   In time, she says she'll be ready to check out the extended route.

"It's kind of like driving but you have everything in front of you and it's easier," said Vega.

County reps hope to inspire people like Mia to use alternate modes of transportation, and to enjoy the nearly 20 parks connected to the path.

Mary Curiel enjoys the paved routes for a different reason, safety.

"I would never go along on the street it's too dangerous to me and I'm not that professional of a bicyclist to do that," said Curiel.

"Virtually all of the crossings of the major streets have underpasses, there are two crossings that do not have underpasses right now, one of them we are planning to build a nice bridge," said Zoll.

The loop is still a work in progress and when it's complete, bike paths all over the city and county will connect to form a 55-mile circle.