Photo Credit: ACC Leisure Services
A new burst of construction will more than double the mileage of the current Greenway multi-use trail system, the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission announced last month at a “Greenway Expansion Celebration.” The new construction is part of a plan to push trail development into the neighborhoods of Athens’ Eastside, which will give bicycle commuters access to a quiet, tree-lined trail along the river to bike or walk to the university and downtown.
One leg of construction will travel three miles south on a county right-of-way from Oconee Street along the Oconee River, extending the trail that travels north from Dudley Park. The Easley Mill Connector trail will connect the Oconee Street park-and-ride lot at the Loop with UGA’s East Campus by way of a new bridge, on property owned by the University System of Georgia.
The two sections of the trail will be completed in early 2018, according to Greenway Commission Chairman Nat Kuykendall. A map of the trail showing the new construction can be found on the ACC website.
The county is working with trustees of Oconee Hill Cemetery on an easement that will link these two sections of the trail. At that point, construction will begin on another section of the trail that will continue along the river to reach College Station Road and Research Drive. The trail will also include spokes that will provide trail access to hundreds of student apartments along Barnett Shoals Road.
The Easley Mill Connector will also link with the Firefly Trail, a 39-mile trail now under construction on the north side of Oconee Street that will eventually link downtown Athens to Winterville to Union Point in Greene County along the route of the abandoned Georgia Railroad.
The new trail sections—funded by SPLOST 2005 and 2011—will be paved, 14-foot-wide multi-use trails for cyclists and pedestrians that will incorporate standard erosion-control features, according to Project Administrator Derek Doster.
“These two new legs of the trail system are going to bring the Greenway’s transportation aspect to the forefront, making it easily accessible to hundreds of commuters,” Kuykendall said. “The principal functions of the plan as approved in February by the mayor and ACC Commission include resource protection, environmental education, recreation and health and transportation.“