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Pedestrian pathway connecting Midland and Odessa becoming more of a reality

The Permian Basin Wildcatters Trail is a pedestrian corridor that will increase safety for cyclists and families. City leaders discussed the partnership efforts.

MIDLAND, Texas — Imagine a pathway free of cars where people could ride bicycles, walk with their babies or dogs, or even just get some exercise in while watching a West Texas sunset. Well, that could be a reality, and better yet, a connection between Midland and Odessa. 

The Permian Basin Wildcatters Trail corridor is a project that has been in the works for years, and Thursday night, city leaders presented it to the community as the two cities embrace working together for improvement in the Permian Basin. 

“We’ve seen repeatedly over many years that it works better when Midland and Odessa partner together," said Midland Mayor Lori Blong. "We’re stronger together when we’re working together, and so, this is one more picture of that. We can accomplish better things when we’re partners.” 

“It gives us an advantage...we can easily work against each other but it does a disservice to the taxpayer in both counties and both cities," said Odessa Mayor Javier Joven. "Working together makes us that much stronger. It gives us a bigger presence within the Permian Basin in Austin and Washington, so it’s beneficial for us to always be working together.” 

A pedestrian corridor connecting Midland and Odessa became a little more real Thursday night for the community.

The 10-phase project will range from the east side of Odessa through The University of Texas Permian Basin, or UTPB, to the west side of Midland, a major project with a timeframe that will be reliant on funding. 

“We’re seeking some federal and some state grant money to be able to fund portions of this project, but over the course of time as we really build out these 19 miles of pathway, we are going to see a need for community support around this project, and so, tonight is one of the first steps of a broader community effort to really bring people in," said Mayor Blong. 

Running and cycling are growing as both communities see a younger population, making this project a need while also aiming to keep people safe.

“Even though the bike trails are basically striped on the asphalt, you never see anyone be on them because of that danger, and so, this is long overdue," said Mayor Joven. "This is a stand-alone corridor that will be able to keep everyone safe.” 

The Permian Basin Wildcatters Trail will look to positively impact everyone in both communities. 

“But I also want to really emphasize that this is a family-oriented project as well…the pathway is wide enough to accommodate runners and cycylists, but also people out there with strollers for just an evening stroll, and we know that our evenings are so beautiful here, you know, when the sun goes down and it’s cool and it’s nice to be outside, and so, we want to provide that for families as well as the athletic enthusiasts," said Mayor Blong. 

Mayor Blong serves as the chair for the Permian Basin Wildcatters Trail committee while Mayor Joven serves as co-chair, with many other leaders involved as well that made the initial step happen on Thursday night. Mayor Blong mentioned that Midland, Odessa and UTPB have all applied for grants to help get the project started, and from there more money will continue to be needed to keep on building. 

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