TxDOT approves more than $5.4 million in grant match funds for Circle Trail project

WICHITA FALLS - Wichita Falls' major trail project is coming much closer to full circle with the help of more than $5 million in funds from TxDOT. Now, city officials are excited to get even closer to seeing the Circle Hike and Bike Trail project complete.

More than 20 years ago, former Wichita Falls Parks and Recreation director Jack Murphy paved the way for the city's circle trail.

"The opportunity really exists to come very very close to completing the 24 mile circle trail." Murphy, who is now retired, says he's ecstatic that a vision he once had is coming to fruition.

"I knew it would be a long time project and it was and it still has a bit remaining to be completed," Murphy said. But it's so satisfying to actually see that light at the end of the tunnel."

On Thursday, the TxDOT Transportation Commission approved three grants for almost all of the missing parts of the circle trail, totaling more than $5.4 million. Grant applications were filled out by the city in April, but with small hopes of getting all three.

"We thought, yeah if we get one, that's great. Two? Wonderful. Number three is beyond my wildest dreams that we could get all three," Lin Barnett, Director of Transportation Planning said.

Barnett composed the information for the grant application. An application he says is highly competitive.

"You have to know your stuff you have to present a good plan, a good concept and that's what we did," Barnett said.

Through TxDOT's Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program, the grant must be locally matched by 20 percent.

"We've climbed our mountain," Barnett said. "Now we need to start going through all the different processes that need to get things rolling."

Barnett says the city has three years to appropriate the matching funds and get things going. As for Murphy, he is looking forward to seeing the Circle Trail coming together.

"When it's completed, I can just say 'turn around it goes right there because it's a circle," Murphy said. "You go either direction and you come right back to where you were."


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