GCNP — When Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the Grand Canyon back in May 1999, the first lady said she’d love to be one of the first to walk on the Grand Canyon Greenway. Clinton was in town for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Greenway, which received support from her Millennium Trails program.
The Grand Canyon Greenway will eventually include 73 miles of trails on the North Rim and South Rim.
Construction on the Greenway was expected to begin the following spring, but that did not materialize. National Park Service officials say the first phase will begin construction this fall. When completed, it will offer visitors an alternative way to see the Canyon,
"We expect to start construction this fall. We’re ready to go a soon as we can get the money," said Michael Terzich, project manager with the park’s I-Team in Flagstaff. "That construction is going to be done with the workforce we have on staff at the park."
The trail crew’s Bernard Ponyah will head up the first phase, which will run from Yavapai Point to the westernmost overlook on East Rim Drive. This portion of the Greenway will be two miles in length.
The forthcoming funds Terzich mentioned are coming from a transportation enhancement grant from the Arizona Department of Transportation through federal highway administration funds. Terzich said the Phase I design is in the approval process and finances are being squared away.
"We will build as much as we can until we can’t lay asphalt in the cold," Terzich said. "There will be rock edging and some places where people can stop and sit. It will be 10 feet wide, a walkway (for pedestrians), not a bicycle way."
The NPS is working in conjunction with the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation, which is doing the design work on the first phase. The foundation is financing some of the design and planning, Terzich said.
With the Oct. 26 opening of Canyon View Information Plaza, questions began to arise about when the Greenway system was going to get off the ground. The Greenway will be a multi-use trail system on both rims, promoting walking, bicycling, horseback riding and other means of exploration. It is part of the park’s ambition to phase out vehicles.
"We really think providing this type of multi-mobile opportunity presents a different type of experience for visitors," Terzich said.
Phase II of the South Rim system is scheduled to begin in 2001 "if everything goes well," Terzich said. This 2.1-mile stretch of the system will connect CVIP to the edge of Grand Canyon Village.
"This particular part will be contracted out to a private contractor to get built," Terzich said.
The trail will come out of CVIP on the south end between the Grand Canyon Association bookstore and future bicycle rental facility. It will replace an existing trail which travels along South Entrance Road and
ends between Amfac’s administrative building and the Grand Canyon Community Library at Navajo Street.
The Phase II portion of the trail will be 12 feet wide and will serve both pedestrians and bicyclists. The trail will include rest areas and directional signage.
"We’re not going into the historic village and we’re still involved with cultural landscape reports," Terzich said about Phase II. "All of these trails are following existing disturbed areas or social trails or trails people have used that have not been paved."
Terzich said design of Phase II is about 60 percent completed. The Greenway Collaborative, an organization headquartered back East, is partnering with GCNPF on contracting out for the design. The collaborative has also been instrumental in obtaining grants.
There will be an interim phase with the Greenway system, Terzich said, when work will be done on the connecting Arizona Trail, which goes south from East Rim Drive in an area between Grandview Point and Moran Point.
The third phase of the Greenway is in the beginning planning stages. This portion of trail will connect CVIP with the future light-rail transit station in Tusayan. The trail will be seven miles long and will be located along existing historic roads and "two tracks," areas where a vehicle has driven through and left tracks.
"We’re still doing planning and surveying and have some environmental documentation to do on portions of it as well," Terzich said. "Through a partnership with the Tusayan Ranger District and Kaibab National Forest, we’ve located a trail that will work for them as it goes past their district office."
Terzich said the trail "should pass underneath the road in a wildlife culvert." After coming out on the east side of State Route 64, the trail would then go past the ranger station and would hook up with an existing route over a hill.
One of the it would connect to would be one of the old entrance roads used many years ago, Terzich said. The exact route of Phase III is speculation, however, at this point.
"We still have some environmental analysis to do on that next phase and some planning to do," he said. "We’re not doing design on it right now."
For the entire Grand Canyon Greenway, initial estimates had the system costing $31 million with that money being raised through an ambitious public-private partnership. Public funding sources come from the federal transportation program and NPS sources. The private funding sources come through GCNPF’s solicitations of corporate sponsors and other partners, as well as private donors and park visitors who contribute through targeted fund-raising campaigns.
The pricetag on Phase I is estimated at $479,000, Terzich said. The cost to construct Phase II will surpass that amount, possibly twice as much or more. A final cost estimate was not available because Phase II is only at 60 percent design completion.
Eventually, the Grand Canyon Greenway will encompass 38 miles of trails along the Canyon rim from Desert View to Hermits Rest and seven miles from CVIP to Tusayan.
The North Rim Greenway would include an extensive network of multipurpose trails extending from Grand Canyon Lodge out to a proposed transit center near the North Kaibab trailhead, then out to Neal Spring and Cape Royal for a total length of about 28 miles.