GAINESVILLE - Gainesville is moving into 2012 with a major part of its greenway project ready for walking, bicycling, or roller blading by April, according to Special Projects Manager Jessica Tullar with Gainesville Community Development.
Tullar says while the project is done in phases, three out of four sections that make up Phase One of the project are complete. The plan is still in place to improve the upper north fork of Flat Creek and the Greenway, which run together downtown behind the new Public Safety Complex.
"Since September 1st this year, our private contractor, Georgia Development Partners, has been busy transforming the old CSX maintenance yard area at the intersection of Banks and Grove Streets. That's going to include the Greenway, but also a trailhead parking area," she said.
It's all part of the city's Midtown Redevelopment Plan dating back to 2001. The project includes stream restoration, new multi-use trails, sidewalks and midtown parking to replace slum and blight. Tullar said eventually the project will provide alternative transportation all the way down to Gainesville State College. Instead of driving, a student could get on a bicycle and ride to class.
"There is a greater master plan that connects all of the existing trails, the Rock Creek Greenway, the Midtown Greenway now under construction and those that are planned by the county," Tullar said. "Eventually it will connect with Longwood Park and go all the way down to Chicopee Woods. When we get Phase One completed, folks can go from the lake through downtown to MLK and turn around and go back."
Tullar said the entire project connected to the county trail system would cost in the $20 million range with most of the funding provided by grants. Local dollars are used for matching funds in an 80/20 percent split for a 15-mile round-trip loop that would be similar to the Silver Comet Trail in northwest Georgia. That trail begins 13 miles northwest of Atlanta and runs 57 miles from Smyrna to the state line along an abandoned rail line through Cobb, Paulding and Polk counties.
"It's nice to see some of the taxpayer dollars coming back to our community and being transformed into a visible amenity," she added and more money is now available. "The city has secured additional transportation enhancement dollars to help fund Phase Two of the Midtown Greenway which will connect from Martin Luther King down to Industrial Boulevard."
Tullar said the city received $500,000 in transportation enhancement funds and recently applied for another recreation trails grant for $100,000 for connection from Industrial Boulevard the Airport.