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Salt Lake County is 1.3 miles closer to connecting two of its longest and most popular trails.

On Friday, a new span of asphalt was dedicated through Parleys Historic Nature Park and into Tanner Park near the mouth of Parleys Canyon.

The ceremony marked completion of Phase 3 of the Parleys Creek Corridor Trail, a major milestone in a two-decade effort to connect the Bonneville Shoreline Trail on the east with the Provo-Jordan River Parkway on the west. The 1.3-mile segment of the trail cost $2 million.

In previous phases of construction, the trail branched off the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and bridges were built for pedestrians and bicyclists across Interstates 80 and 215 and into the nature park.

Juan Arce-Larreta, chairman of the Parleys Rails, Trails and Tunnels Coalition— or PRATT — said the concept of a major trail through one of the Salt Lake Valley's most developed areas seemed almost laughable when proposed 22 years ago as part of Salt Lake County's trails master plan.

But he said a combination of federal, state, county and city dollars coupled with private donations are helping to complete the 8-mile-long trail. The goal is to complete the entire project within seven years.

Progress is being made to solve problems with two major bottlenecks along the planned route — the Roper Train Yards just west of Interstate 15 and the area adjacent to Sugar House Park.

The Utah Transit Authority has worked with trail proponents to build a wide enough overpass over the Roper Yards to accommodate the trail. Walt Gilmore, the landscape architect and project manager for Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, is hopeful $650,000 will be appropriated in Congress this November to finance the trail from 900 West to 300 West.

In what Gilmore called "the miracle of the trail," agreements with private property owners could be signed soon to allow construction on "the Draw at Sugar House," a tunnel under 1300 East that would connect Sugar House Park, Hidden Hollow and the Sugar House business district.

The $4 million project includes the Sego Lily Plaza on the west side of Sugar House Park designed by environmental artist Patricia Johanson. If all goes as planned, construction on that project could begin as early as spring 2011.

Plans call for parts of the trail to run through six parks and to utilize a proposed corridor for a trolley car just south of 2100 South in Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake.

The ceremony Friday near the entrance to Tanner Park allowed organizers to celebrate the opening, reflect on the history of the area and to plant 125 trees along the trail.

PRATT honored the work of Lynne Olson, who, with students from Hawthorne Elementary School in Salt Lake City, helped to preserve Hidden Hollow Park in the middle of the Sugar House business district, which will become part of the trail. It also honored Gilmore for hours of extra work and commitment to begin turning the trail from dream to reality.

Rick Graham of Salt Lake City said the new transportation corridor meant history was coming full circle since Parley Pratt, one of the original pioneers to settle the Salt Lake Valley, once created the Golden Pass Toll Road in the area to open up canyons to a growing city population. He said the corridor had been used in the past by the Pony Express and the Denver and Rio Grand Railroad and in more modern times by Interstate 80 and Interstate 215.

The estimated total coast of the project is expected to be around $20 million, though many parts are coming in under budget. Parleys Creek Corridor Trail has been awarded $10.5 million in federal funding and at least $2.625 million from the ZAP-2 Recreation fund. Additional money is being contributed by area businesses and residents as well as Salt Lake City and the state of Utah.

For information on the project, visit