Carlton Christensen remembers organizing and taking part in a community service project to plant 400 trees along the Jordan River Parkway.

The Salt Lake City councilman has a picture of his then-6-year-old daughter, Jessica, posing with one of the 18-inch saplings they planted.

Today, that Norway maple tree is about 30 feet high, Christensen said, and Jessica is 16.

"It's a reminder to me that these are long-term commitments, both to the community and the environment in which we live," Christensen said. "If we don't take appropriate steps, we miss some great opportunities."

Christensen joined Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker at the Bend in the River trail head at 1030 W. Fremont Ave. for a press conference Tuesday to highlight advantages of funding trails and bikeways initiatives.

"For someone who has grown up and spent his entire lifetime on the west side, the Jordan River Parkway trail is the one element that connects our communities together," Christensen said.

Calling Salt Lake City a statewide leader in bikeways and trails and vowing to continue that, Becker is proposing a pair of major financial commitments to that effort in his 2008-09 budget: the hiring of a full-time bikeways and trails coordinator, and the allocation of $500,000 for bikeways from the city's capital improvements budget.

The bikeways and trails coordinator would work with city staff, the City Council and community groups to expedite development of trails and bikeways in the city, Becker said.

"We have to look at bikeways as a significant and substantial part of our transportation system," the mayor said.

The city's recently completed downtown transportation master plan calls for additional bike routes in the heart of downtown — including a mix of shared and segregated, on-street and off-street bike lanes.

"With all the growth in the price of fuel right now and the air quality, having a good bicycle system and a pedestrian system are very important to our community," said Tim Harpst, Salt Lake City's transportation director.

Salt Lake City recently received approval from the Federal Highway Administration to test a new bikeway marking system this summer, putting Utah's capital city "on the cutting edge of doing things different for bicycling in the community," Harpst said.

Shared-lane markings will be put down on 200 South between Main and State, said Dan Bergenthal, a city transportation official. Bike lanes currently aren't in place on that segment of the road because it isn't wide enough, he said.

The striping will feature a bicycle symbol on the road with a couple of chevrons above it, Bergenthal said. A 4-foot-wide green band also will be painted down the middle of the outside lane to indicate to motorists that they must share the lane with bicyclists, he said.

Becker's budget also suggests funding $460,000 in capital improvement projects for the Jordan River Parkway. The mayor is asking for $260,000 to replace lighting and wiring along the trail that was pulled out of the ground and stolen from the city, he said.

Another $200,000 would go to connect a portion of the Jordan River Parkway trail between the Rose Park Golf Course and Redwood Road.

The city has a nearly complete trail system from 2100 South to the Rose Park Golf Course, said Rick Graham, director of public services. A 2 1/2-block section between North Temple and 200 South is incomplete, largely because it will have to cross four active railroad lines.

"That remains a challenge," Graham said.

Christensen said he believes there is "strong desire" on the City Council to enhance parks and trails with the upcoming fiscal year budget.

"The mayor has made some great recommendations," he said. "I'm optimistic that these items will be funded at the end of the day."

The City Council has the final say on the city's budget, which by state law must be adopted by June 22.

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