CHEYENNE – Cheyenne’s greenway continues to expand, now offering more than 40 miles of paths for residents to walk, bike and enjoy the outdoors. With each new greenway segment, new parts of town are connected with the city’s extensive greenway system.

Bringing even more greenway accessibility to the east side of town, city officials and staff broke ground Friday on the Henderson Ditch Greenway project.

“If we’ve got over 40 miles worth of Greenway now, we’re a really well-connected community,” Mayor Marian Orr said during the ceremony. “And talking about 2020 and all the hardships that we’ve been through, this is really bringing us together.”

The new connector will begin at the intersection of Belaire Avenue and Henderson Drive, and will run south for about a half mile until it reaches the existing Sun Valley Greenway. Lebhart Elementary School is situated on the path of the new connector, so kids will have a safe place to walk or bike that is separated from the road.

Once students or residents reach the Sun Valley Greenway from the new connector, they’ll be connected to much of the city’s greenway system, with the ability to safely reach places like Holliday Park or the Sun Valley Open Space. And as more recreation opportunities become available on the east side of town, the connector will become even more useful.

Construction on the project is expected to take about four weeks.

“This is going to be so fantastic for the families and folks out in Sun Valley and out here on the east side of town,” Orr said.

While the project was estimated to cost around $250,000, the price tag will be about $77,000 lower than anticipated. While the city’s new greenway coordinator, Jeanie Vetter, said they weren’t sure of the exact reason for the lower costs, she said it was a highly competitive bid process.

The project will be paid for using sixth-penny sales tax receipts, which means the funding saved on this project will go toward more greenway improvements and expansions in the future.

Ultimately, the hope is to connect these greenway pieces on the east side with the recently purchased, 100-acre East Park. The council bought the plot of land near Pershing Boulevard and Whitney Road earlier this year using sixth-penny funds, but the land has not yet been developed for recreational use.

That plot of land is adjacent to an area owned by the Laramie County Conservation District, creating even more outdoor opportunities for residents.

“Connecting up all these pieces takes time; it takes money, so it just is so wonderful in this time of such unpleasantness,” Councilman Pete Laybourn said. “I’m seeing so many more people out on the path – the families, the kids. It’s an opportunity to get out and get some good exercise and be safe.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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