City officials from Lehi and Draper met with cyclists at the Point of the Mountain on Tuesday evening to celebrate a new bike trail connection linking Utah and Salt Lake counties.

The connection creates over 30 miles of continuous trail between the Historic Lehi Rail Trail and the Porter Rockwell Trail in Salt Lake County, allowing cyclists to ride seamlessly all the way from the Sandy Historic District into north Utah County.

Cyclists, joggers and skateboarders can access a number of other regional trails through the connection, including the Murdock Canal Trail, Provo River Parkway Trail and Jordan River Parkway Trail.

“You can literally get on a trail now in the city of Ogden, Utah, and you can ride continuously on a protected trail all the way to, well really all the way now into Lehi, if you use the Jordan River Parkway trail and a couple other roads,” Draper Mayor Troy Walker said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Tuesday at the Utah County-Salt Lake County border on the east side of Interstate 15. “We will soon have the most connected trail system west of the Mississippi, if we don’t already, as we continue to add more of these connections.”

The trail connection means cyclists going from Draper to Lehi no longer have to ride on Frontage Road alongside I-15, a narrow, single-lane road frequented by trucks leaving and entering the Geneva Rock gravel pit at the Point of the Mountain.

“As you look at this road for a minute, you’ll note there are no shoulders on that road to speak of,” the Draper mayor said, pointing to the road below the raised trail. “As I-15 gets rebuilt every other year, it continues to move a little closer to the gravel pit.”

“It’s as scary of a cycling section as there is in the country,” continued Walker. “In fact, you can only really do it on a Sunday afternoon, that’s about the only time it’s safe. Now, that’s over. No one has to be on that road anymore, and we’re good to go.”

Walker said city officials from both Draper and Lehi had been “planning a north-south regional connection for years” and called it “the first extensive trail connection on the east side of I-15 between Salt Lake and Utah counties.”

“I can tell you, personally, I’ve been wanting to see this trail connected for about 10 years,” he said. “So I couldn’t be happier, as a mayor, most importantly as a cyclist and a person who enjoys the trail system, to be able to commute all the way down into Lehi now without having to ride on what is clearly a treacherous road below us. So I’m very excited about it.”

Lehi and Draper city council members lifted a scarlet blanket off of the asphalt trail to unveil a bronze plaque with the phrase “Golden Spoke,” a play on words referencing the Golden Spike driven into the First Transcontinental Railroad in Box Elder County.

A handful of cyclists sped across the county line after the mayors of both cities used giant scissors to cut ribbon draped across the trail at the county border and declared the trail open to the general public.

“What an awesome addition to both of our cities to have this,” Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson said. “Encourage everybody to get out and ride these trails, because they’re turning into something spectacular.”

Johnson said the trail connection not only makes cycling safer and more convenient for residents of Utah and Salt Lake counties, but it also demonstrates a willingness by officials from both cities to collaborate on recreation projects.

“We’re pretty happy to have Draper actually be a part of Utah County,” said Johnson. “That’s how close our relationship is ... They actually moved here.”

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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