By Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – North Texas shifted gears Thursday, paving the way to finish more than 50 miles of trails, and making it possible for cyclists and runners to head out of town and not have to turn around.

The Regional Transportation Council approved more than $36 million in federal funding for two key trails, including one that will connect Fort Worth and Dallas.

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The funding will fill the final 3.1 miles of gaps on the trail. It’s scheduled to be finished by 2023.

It will also cover design and engineering, and more than eight miles of construction on the Cotton Belt Trail, which will parallel a planned commuter rail line.

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Mayors in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas committed to finding the funding for the trail system in 2013.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said Thursday the project was equally important to transit, recreation and tourism.

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“The roadways are always going to be important, and trains behind it,” she said. “But you have to offer alternatives. If you’re going to have a successful city, you can’t ever pour enough concrete, and you’ve got to offer people the option to get out and walk and run.”