Kristine Ishihara, City Council Woman District 4, cuts ribbon. LEDCO Board Members: Natalie Lynch, Peggy Vaugh, Reverend JD Nelson and attendees look on.

by Joycelyne Fadojutimi
Jogging is a great past-time for all of us with legs, whether two or four. Jogging trails provide opportunity for betterment in all aspects of health and the economy. Longview is preparing for a two-trail link up that will merge two of these paths into ten full miles of life-prolonging opportunity. A ribbon cutting has announced the completion of Guthrie Trail Phase One. The ceremony was held on a stretch of trail adjacent to the intersection of Fourth Street and Clinic Drive. It was a blast for the crowds of happy locals who attended.
The mile-long Guthrie Trail Phase One links the Cargill Long Park Trail at Fourth Street to the Akin Park Trail on Delwood Drive. Completion of Phase Two and Phase Three will see a connection of the Paul Boorman Trail and Cargill Long Park Trail. It was a civic labor of love.
The Longview Economic Development Corporation (LEDCO) oversaw most of the funding for Phase One. The financing of Phases Two and Three came from grants provided by the Texas Transportation Commission and matching grants from LEDCO. Phases Two and Three will extend the trail from Akin Park at Eden Drive to Guthrie Park, then from Guthrie Park to Paul Boorman Trail near Highway 80. It was a long time coming.
City planners commenced work on a master plan more than ten years ago. The objective was (and is) to create a beneficial transformation of undeveloped, unused flood plains, provide a vehicle for healthful lifestyles, supply thoroughfares into residential areas to bring about retail, and additional improvements. Longview residents have supported the project, voicing the need for an extensive trail system. The opening of Phase One is the first step toward final success.
Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron spoke on how the city has benefitted from invaluable support from local benefactors.
“This nearly one-mile section that we are here for today would not be possible without them,” he said. “A portion of the land was donated by Mildred McHaney Johnston. There was sign that stood along Dellwood for several years, proclaiming that as McHaney Park.”
The project in total cost $1.6 million. Most of this came from LEDCO, which recognizes the benefits of how healthy lives are higher-quality lives. Health-enhancing running trails also boost home and property values, attract new businesses, and bring about entertaining, enjoyable activities for residents.
Furthermore, KSA Engineering did a great job of terraforming a flood plain. Caron made it clear how crucial this contribution was.
“You wouldn’t think it would be all that challenging to put a little concrete out on the ground so people can get from one place to another, but they did a fabulous job weaving this trail through a once-densely forested area, crossing two major roadways and a number of creeks,” he said.
Caron also credited the Public Works Department (PWD) for the fantastic job it did with construction management and supervision. PWD employees: Engineer Rolin McPhee; Alton Bradley, Bob Watson and Kathy Ferguson made sure construction work took place under the direction and guidance necessary for the great success being seen today.
“In addition to working through the design and with the contractor they had to put up with me asking questions,” said Caron.
Dade Dodson and his crews of Excel Utility Construction, Inc. overcame many obstacles in carrying out their flawless efforts. Immoderate weather was a major problem they overcame.
“I think you will be impressed by what you see as you travel along the path with the bridges, culverts, crossings, retaining walls and signals,” said Caron.
The mayor, city council and city manager all poured out their gratitude and praises for the proliferating success of this major improvement operation. The city’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan made provisions for an updated, improved direction to be taken for the city’s continued growth and improvement.
Caron also credited the Texas Department of Transportation for its support of Longview’s now-commenced work on Phases Two and Three, which are already two miles long. When the ten-mile route is finished, runners, walkers and strollers will be able to start out at the Paul G. Boorman trailhead at the Loop, go south to Highway 80, veer northward and pass under McCann and Judson Roads on Guthrie Trail at 4th Street, and finish by heading down to Teague Park on Highway 80. Civic movers and shakers envision all this being completed by 2021.
The ribbon cutting was well-attended by local running enthusiasts and their canine companions. Christina Little was there with her whole family and many friends.
“This is a family and friends trail,” she said.
Nina Allen of the Longview animal shelter also came, bringing many furry attendees. There is more.
They were among many habitual runners who are eager to get started. One of them was Rocio Mendez.
“I love they are expanding it. We use this trail very often,” she said.
“With these trails, Longview will be the envy of the region, if not the nation,” concluded Caron.
No doubt.