PERMIAN BASIN, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- The University of Texas Permian Basin and the City of Midland were each awarded a grant from the Texas Transportation Commission called the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program to fund the beginning stages of the Wildcatters Trail. The Wildcatters Trail is a biking, running, and walking corridor which will eventually connect the cities of Midland and Odessa.

The City of Midland was awarded $3,697,495 through the grant while UTPB was awarded $6,377,697. UTPB President Dr. Sandra Woodley and City of Midland Mayor Lori Blong worked together on these grants to “improve the quality of our spaces with safe and enjoyable multi-modal trails in the Permian Basin”. A Wildcatters Trail committee made up of representatives from UTPB, City of Midland, City of Odessa, Metropolitan Planning Organization, and industry leaders guided the planning for the 19-mile trail.

UTPB said these two initial grants will lead to future grant applications intended to fully fund the complete Wildcatters trail which will eventually span 19 miles connecting Odessa and Midland; a $65 million project to complete.

The trail is planned to begin at UTPB’s Odessa campus, extend through its Midland campus near the Engineering building and the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, and end at the Scharbauer Sports Complex in Midland. The trail is an effort to provide the residents of the Permian Basin with a safe place to hike and bike and enjoy West Texas. 

The Texas Transportation Commission announced on October 26, 2023, that they would be awarding $345,110,072 in federal funds and up to $35,543,677 in transportation

development credits to support a variety of bicycle and pedestrian planning and infrastructure projects throughout the state. The Texas Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program distributes funds available for projects in non-urban, small urban, and medium urban areas.

“The Wildcatters Trail project has been a personal priority for me and many other community leaders over the past seven years, so we are thrilled to begin moving forward,”said Dr. Woodley. “The trails on the UTPB campus are used by our community every day so we are excited to upgrade the existing trails and expand them to provide a safe and enjoyable space for bicyclists, runners, and walkers. I am thankful for the leadership and support we have received from Mayor Blong and her staff on this project along with Odessa City leaders including Mayor Javier Joven, councilman Steve Thompson, and councilwoman Denise Swanner. The entire community benefits from a close productive partnership between the University and the City. We are looking forward to many more successful collaborations in the future.”

“The Wildcatter Trail initiative has been a joint project between the communities of Midland, Odessa, and UTPB. Our celebration of this grant is really a celebration of successful collaboration, sustained over time,” said Mayor Blong. “Projects aimed at enhancing the Quality of Life, such as the Wildcatter Trail, play a pivotal role in shaping the desired future for our region. This future envisions a lively community with abundant opportunities for our residents to flourish. These initiatives and collaborative ventures exemplify our dedication to advancing progress, fostering innovation, and establishing a community where both families and residents can truly thrive. By working together, we are empowered to achieve even greater outcomes.”

Once the grant agreements are processed, the City of Midland and UTPB will post Request for Proposals for each of their funded projects. The construction should begin at the Scharbauer Sports Complex in Midland and on the UT Permian Basin campus within the next 12 months. The Wildcatter Trail will be a multi-year collaboration.