Belton City Council

BELTON — The Texas Department of Transportation awarded the city a $1.5 million grant to extend the hike-and-bike trail to South Belton.

On Saturday, TxDOT announced the Belton project was one of 46 endeavors from small urban areas to secure funds from a $44 million pool dedicated to the department’s Transportation Alternatives Program, which offers grants for trails and similar undertakings.

Belton’s expansion will continue the existing trail in Confederate Park to the southeast, beneath Interstate 35 to the northbound frontage road, continue along the road to FM 436 and connect to the existing sidewalk at the intersection of South Wall Street and FM 436. The city will build a two-way, 12-foot-wide path.

The total cost for the project is estimated at nearly $1.8 million.

Trails are the No. 1 priority for Belton, according to a resident survey the city conducted last year.

Mayor Marion Grayson said she is grateful for the grant and the program, adding that it has made a huge impact on the city.

“The more we link neighborhoods to downtown the better,” Grayson said. “This grant will help fund the first expansion of the trail to the south, and it’s another manifestation that Belton continues to grow and progress.”

Previously, Belton received five grants from TxDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program.

“These types of grants have helped us to complete beautiful public projects that we would otherwise not be able to afford,” City Manager Sam Listi said.

To receive the grant, Belton had to match $358,114 in local funds, Listi said.

Initially, Belton asked for a $1.3 million grant from TxDOT. But after adjusting the project for a wider sidewalk, the city bumped up the amount it sought from the department, Belton spokesman Paul Romer said.

The Belton City Council approved the grant application to TxDOT in May. State Rep. Hugh Shine, state Sen. Dawn Buckingham and U.S. Rep. John Carter backed Belton’s effort.

City staff told the City Council in May they were confident Belton would receive a grant because the hike-and-bike trail extension would provide a safer connection across I-35; provide a direct connection to the Belton Park and Ride; and it connects retail, recreation, and finance and government buildings together.

The next step for Belton will be to finalize the grant agreement with TxDOT, Romer said. Once signed, the city will hire a design contractor, bid the project and build the trail, he said.

The southern trail should be complete in three years, Romer said.