Transportation secretary, mayor to attend trail ribbon cutting is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata will join local officials Friday afternoon for a ribbon-cutting marking the completion of “one of the most heavily used” sections of the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail.

Map credit: City of Wilmington. Click here for an enlarged version.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, UNCW Chancellor Gary Miller and developer Raiford Trask will also be on hand for the ceremony, scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at Autumn Hall Pond (see map at left).

According to a bulletin from the City of Wilmington, this segment of the trail runs three-quarters of a mile through the Autumn Hall community, which Trask developed, and connects the College Acres neighborhood to the “heavily traveled” portion of the trail the runs along Eastwood Road.

“Like other parts of the trail that make connections at important locations in various parts of town, this section provides a transportation alternative for anyone in the area who wants to travel to or from UNCW or Wrightsville Beach,” the city’s bulletin said. “About 12 miles of the 15-mile trail have been completed so far and is being used not just for recreation, but also biking and walking as an alternative to using a car for transportation.”

The Cross-City Trail is a multi-use, mostly off-road path for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate the city safely (click here for points of interest along the trail). Because it promotes forms of transportation other than motor vehicle, it may reduce roadway congestion while giving users a healthy workout, city officials have said.

According to the city, stimulus dollars cover nearly 60 percent of the trail’s $6.83 million cost, while 31 percent–$2.1 million–comes from city park bond funds. The N.C. Department of Transportation has committed $435,000 while state grant money and private contributions round out the total.