Construction is underway for a new paved path connecting Sunriver to the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

Prep work included placing explosives underground and blasting out rocks along the 5.5 mile trail.

It's a $2.5 million  project, led by the U.S. Forest Service, in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said it will be one of the longest paths in Central Oregon.

"Folks can simply walk from one recreation destination to another recreation destination and have destinations in between, so it will be a really great addition to the forest," Murphy said Tuesday.

The project is expected to be completed this fall.

Murphy said the paved path will open up the forest to people who have limited access, such as in wheelchairs, as well as add safety features at a busy railroad crossing and reduce highway congestion.

The funding comes from the Public Lands Highways Discretionary Progarm and ODOT's contribution is from the Rail Safety Program, he added.