This new paved path in western Rio Rico lets pedestrians and cyclists avoid sharing the road with cars.

Locals wishing to enjoy a walk or bike ride without having to worry about sharing the road with cars have a new paved path they can use in western Rio Rico.

The informally named Damon Trail begins just south of the Chevron gas station at the intersection of Yavapai Drive and Camino Caralampi. The wide, paved path travels south along Caralampi before turning left on the very steep Paseo Venado and ending near the Robert Damon Recreational Complex.

“It’s great to see,” said Josh Landess, who lives near the approximately 1.7-mile path. “When I first moved here, I was not always comfortable taking a walk around here, so a few times I drove to other neighborhoods to do so.”

The trail was essentially complete by late November and a few more finishing touches, like landscaping and signage, will be added by the end of February, said Jesus Valdez, public works director for Santa Cruz County.

About $100,000 went into materials and contractors for the path and most of the labor was in-house, Valdez said. Funding for the Public Works Department project was included in the 2017 fiscal year budget.

“I think any time you construct an amenity where you’re segregating some of the people using our right-of-ways from vehicles, I think that’s a positive,” Valdez said, adding that motorized vehicles can’t use the trail.

He said the Public Works Department hopes to add up to 1.5 miles of paved paths each year. The county first began creating bike and pedestrian trails in 2009, when it installed a segment of the path along Pendleton Drive, across the highway from the Damon Trail.

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