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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
A skate boarder rides through the tunnel on the the Provo River Trail Monday, April 23, 2012. Completed six months early, the Provo River Trail is now open at I-15.
The more we can get people outdoors and onto the path, it's good for all of us. This is a great investment in the community. —Monte Swain

PROVO — Monte Swain was pleasantly surprised as he headed out for his first jog of the season on the Provo River Trail. That’s because the trail is no longer closed at I-15.

"I didn't know about the tunnel. The tunnel is great,” he said. “It used to be terrible to run through this spot.”

The trail under the freeway used to be a very narrow, low clearance passageway. The quarter-mile section of the trail was closed for 20 months while new freeway bridges were put over the Provo River as part of the I-15 Core Project.

"I just avoided it. After I tried running a couple of times” said Kristi Jackson, who was biking on Monday, but often jogs the trail. “I thought it would be a quick detour, and so I avoided it, and this is the first time I've been on the trail since. I was surprised it was open actually.”

Now this critical section of the trail is wide open with an eight-foot clearance. It is elevated above the river, which will prevent flooding. It also has new lighting in the tunnel to improve safety.

"It's been inconvenient while it was down” said Ted Hindmarsh, who was out on his bike. “But it has been worth the wait.”

Favorable weather helped UDOT finish the improved section of trail six months ahead of schedule. 

"It's actually really nice, we were going through it and I was commenting how nice the underpass was,” said Mike Evans.

With the path under the freeway open again, joggers and bikers can enjoy the entire 14-mile stretch of trail.

"You get on that trail, and it's this network that goes along the river, from the mountains to the lake, and you can enjoy that scenery and feel like you're out in the middle of no place,” said Provo Mayor John Curtis.

And the timing couldn't be better for Swain, who jogs the trail weekly during the spring, summer and fall. "The more we can get people outdoors and onto the path, it's good for all of us,” he said. “This is a great investment in the community.”

On Saturday at 11 a.m., Curtis will lead a community celebration with a Provo River Trail Opening Bike Ride. It will go along the trail from the mouth of Provo Canyon near 800 N. in Orem to the freeway.

People can meet up with the group at 2230 North and University Avenue at 11:15 a.m. to ride to Paul Ream Park at 1600 W. 500 North for the opening event.