Smuggling highway transformed to bike trails

On the fringes of a bustling historic town lies an oasis for nature lovers.

We TMve been out here with weed eaters and chain saws, public works director Fernando Guerra said.

Guerra helped clear the way for newly created jogging and mountain bike trails in Rio Grande City.

Now city workers are marking the trails so signs can go up to help identify the eight trails that now exist.

We are also preparing repair stations for bikes that get flat tires, deputy city manager Elisa Beas said.

The city is also creating a map of the 3.85 miles of trails that may soon be available on an app.

"We want to go further on in the future and do the apps so you can get information on the plants and wildlife," Beas said.

The nature trails meander through picturesque and rugged terrain the Rio Grande, but choosing where to put them didn TMt take much thinking.

"The irony of this is that once upon a time these trails were used by undocumented people that came across the border and they were probably used by people who were smuggling stuff," Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said.

Border Patrol agents still patrol the dirt trails but city officials are hoping that tourist traffic will deter illegal activity.

"The minute this becomes an area that is frequented by people, regular everyday people the people who are doing the illicit stuff will want to avoid it, Mayor Villarreal said.

The transformation from narcotic and human smuggling highway to a nature lovers paradise has taken about six months.

It TMs a change city officials welcome.

"You have little mini meadows and streams and the river nearby so it TMs going to be something like nothing ever exists in the entire valley, this is nature at its finest, Mayor Villarreal said.

The project cost more than $15,000 to build.

The trails will be open to the public mid-June.