SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) — On Thursday, Aug. 11, the Biden Administration announced nearly $47 million in funding for two transportation projects. One of the projects is in Salina.

The project will revitalize the Smoky Hill River and trails and has been in the works for decades. The $22 million grant from the Raise Program will put the City of Salina one step closer.

Senator Jerry Moran, who was helping with the grant, called city leaders on Tuesday morning to share the news.

“We have worked for this for so many years, and it means so much to our community. They’ve been behind our projects, and it’s one of these things that is going to change our community for life,” said Martha Tasker, the director of utilities for the City of Salina.

From a river without much water, it will become a vibrant river walk with miles of trails, pedestrian bridges and more.

“Along with all of the bridges, the idea behind the bridges is they open up the river channel to where we can have canoeing and kayaking when moving into our river renewal project,” Tasker said.

Another project in motion, in conjunction with the trails, is to bring back the flow of water to the river that has been halted for decades by the Corps of Engineers Diversion Channel and Levee System.

“With this raise grant, the exciting part is that we know that construction will start in the next few years, and so it gives us hope, and it gives the community hope that it’s really gonna to happen,” said Jane Anderson, the executive director of the Friends of the River Foundation.

It is making a longtime dream for many Salina residents a reality.

“It’s just unbelievable to have this opportunity,” Tasker said.

“You drive around, it’s really a destroyed ecosystem in this moment, and you have to have imagination to think of what it will look like in the future,” Anderson said.

The City will have until 2031 to spend the more than $22 million. Friends of the River Foundation is in the process of meeting with the Corps for a project to get the Smoky Hill River flowing.