TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A celebration of a project years in the making is happening in southern Arizona. It comes as a new report sheds an unflattering light on safety in the state.
The final touches on The Loop were put into place surrounding Tucson, stretching to neighboring Pima County towns, with the latest and final piece being the pathway near Glenn Street and Craycroft Road.
It's a breath of fresh air, in the fresh air, for commuters and enthusiasts alike.
"I was real excited to get it finished," said Wil Bisell, who lives nearby. "I've lived in my house for quite some time and it was always a pain to have to go up and cruise through gr ant to get around this park."
It's a carefree Sunday feeling on the path for Bisell.
The beauty of The Loop is that it can be an everyday feeling for Keith Schaeffer. His bike is his livelihood.
"This is my main transportation," Schaeffer said, pointing to his bicycle. "I don't own an automobile. Haven't for decades. Do my grocery shopping, my work, all of that on a bicycle. Anything that makes it easier for me to get around, that's very much appreciated."
But is The Loop making a difference for safety?
A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association said Arizona is the deadliest state for pedestrians, having the highest rate of deaths per population.
It's why the completion of The Loop trail is being celebrated to keep drivers and pedestrians separated.
"The Loop is a system of paved, shared-use paths and short segments of buffered bike lanes connecting the Rillito, Santa Cruz, and Pantano River Parks with the Julian Wash and Harrison Road Greenways," The Loop website said.
It's 131 miles of ease and enjoyment, that was years in the making, smoothly surrounding Tucson.
"People who drive complain about the potholes and all. Well, it's at least as bad for bicyclists. Or even worse. Because we're way over on the right. People throw their trash over there. It's a lot bumpier. I appreciate being able to avoid the streets when I can," Schaeffer said.
The Loop puts distance in between danger, keeping cars clear away from those on foot.
Pima County will celebrate the completion of the project on Saturday, March 17, with several free events around the county.
LEARN MORE HERE: The Loop Completion Celebration