VENTURA — A six-mile bike path linking Ojai and Ventura is scheduled for completion in September.
Ventura officials envisioned the trail years ago after noticing the popularity of the county-built, 10-mile Ojai Valley Trail along the old Southern Pacific railroad right of way, city engineer Rick Raives said.
The new trail will also follow the defunct railway, which the city bought from Southern Pacific in 1996 for $1 million. It will extend to Main Street, allowing travel straight to Surfers Point or north to Santa Barbara along the Rincon Highway.
The first small stretch of trail, from Foster Park to Ventura Avenue, was built last summer, beginning where the Ojai trail ends. Work to extend the trail to Main Street in Ventura began in January.
When complete, the trail will be lined with interpretive signs, mile markers and drinking fountains--all works of art, Raives said. Several artists received commissions for eight pieces of functional public art, including a series of drinking fountains depicting the history of the Chumash Indians and a kinetic windmill, fashioned from old railroad ties.
About 80% of the $4.5-million project is funded through state bikeway and federal transportation grants, Raives said.