Change is constant in Oro Valley, where there’s usually some kind of project aimed at improving residents’ quality of life. This time, with a new multi-use path along Naranja Drive, just outside Naranja Park.

“I think its going to be a really positive thing,” said resident Zachary Benson.

Last year, the town was awarded nearly $3.5 million from the Pima County Regional Transportation Authority to construct a 2-mile, 10-foot-wide multi-use path along the north side of Naranja Drive.

The funds were awarded through a bidding process with other municipalities.

It’s something Town Manager Paul Keesler said is needed.

“What we wanted to do was ensure pedestrian connectivity to the other MUPs that already exist throughout town,” Keesler said.

The popular street connects La Caada to First Avenue, with MUPs already in place on both streets.

“Coming from where these kids live on that busy street with a park being here, its good to have a safe way for kids to get from where theyre coming from to [Naranja] Park,” said resident Stephanie Weir.

The most significant impact of this new multi-use path will likely be on pedestrian and cyclist safety. In 2023, one young girl was seriously injured, and another lost her life after they were struck by a car while walking along Naranja Drive.

Benson spoke about that tragic incident and his own experience with being hit by a car at the age of 15.

“It was a huge incident in my life and in the surrounding community when that happened. It was shocking and upsetting,” he said. “We need a solution to allow children and people to enjoy our community safely.”

Because the funding is federal, ADOT is overseeing the $3.656 million project, which is set to enter its design phase this spring, with construction slated to begin this fall.