The trail that takes cyclists and runners from the mouth of Provo Canyon to the shores of Utah Lake is open six months ahead of schedule.
The final piece of the trail is a tunnel under the freeway that closed during the I-15 reconstruction project.
Former BYU student, Matt Taylor, used the trail to get to school every day. He said going through the tunnel under the freeway could be scary.
“It used to be that you had to do a sort of snaky maze, and sometimes it was underwater,” Taylor said.
Before the improvement, the cave-like tunnel was dark, had a low ceiling and was subject to flooding from the nearby river because the trail was even with the shore-line.
Sterling Beck, Provo City councilman, recalled how bad it used to be.
“I’ve seen people walking through the trail with bikes held overhead; wading through the water,” Beck said.
When the I-15 Core Project began, reconstruction of the freeway over the tunnel was closed. As part of the reconstruction project, UDOT redid the tunnel.
Todd Jensen, project director of the the I-15 Core Project, attributed the early finish of the project to well planned work activity and the good weather Utah had this winter.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the new tunnel opening, Provo Mayor John Curtis praised the I-15 Core team for being so easy to work with.
“The I-15 Core team has been one of the best relationships I’ve had since I have been mayor. They work closely with us, they inform us and they do a great job letting everyone know what they are doing,” Curtis said. “One of the things that is most important to me is that they leave an area better than they found it, this trail opening is one of those examples.”
Curtis said the new trail is wider and safer because of new lighting and raised floor.
“It’s a great asset and it just keeps getting better,” Curtis said.
Bicycle use of the trail will be promoted by the Provo Bike Committee: an all volunteer organization that works to make Provo more bike friendly. Currently the committee is working with Alta Planning, a premier community planning company, to create a master plan integrating roads and trail usage for cyclists.
They also host events like a monthly bike picnic, to have fun and to raise awareness about biking issues.
Zac Whitmore heads the Provo Bike Committee and is very happy with the new tunnel.
“They did an incredible job,” Whitmore said. “To have it open for the summer is wonderful.”