Construction is to begin soon on a vital new link in The Loop — an extensive trail system for nonmotorized travel across the Tucson metro area.

The new trail segment will extend three-quarters of a mile along the south bank of the Cañada del Oro Wash from North Thornydale Road to the west side of Interstate 10.

It will link previously completed trail segments of The Loop — one northeast of Thornydale Road and the other along a frontage road near I-10. The Loop network now includes some 100 miles of trails and eventually will total 131 miles when additional connections are completed.

“This new segment will provide a connection to the Cañada del Oro Wash linear park and ultimately to Oro Valley’s linear park system,” said John Spiker, civil engineering manager for the Pima County Regional Flood Control District. The county oversees The Loop trail system.

“It’s a fairly short segment, but it will be very useful to people,” Spiker said. “By providing a connection to other segments, it will be useful to (bicycle) commuters and people who want to ride longer distances.”

A smooth paved path

The new section of trail — a shared-use path that will be open to all nonmotorized travel —will be paved but not extensively landscaped, Spiker said.

“It will be 16 feet wide as it leaves Thornydale and gradually narrow to 12 feet near Interstate 10” because the right-of-way along the route is limited, he said. “The lack of (a broader) right of way prevents putting in any significant landscaping. But it will still be important for connectivity” with other trail segments.

Completion next year

Spiker said work is expected to begin on the trail later this month or in early August.

“We’re hoping to finish it by early next year, maybe by February of 2015,” he said.

The project will cost about $1.5 million and include a pedestrian bridge over a side wash along the route, Spiker said.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz