The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday unanimously approved a $1.5 million contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation that is expected to allow a former railroad to be converted into a greenway.
The so-called Rails to Trails project will convert about 4.85 miles of unused CSX railroad into a pedestrian and bicycle trail.
The former railroad starts at Elza Gate Park at Melton Lake Drive in east Oak Ridge, runs past the Emory Heights neighborhood and Jefferson Middle School, crosses Emory Valley Road near Hank’s Market, and then continues through the Hendrix Creek neighborhood along Lafayette Drive before ending near South Illinois Avenue, Scarboro Road, and the Y-12 National Security Complex.
The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) approved $1.224 million for the project in October 2016 through the Transportation Alternative Program, or TAP. There is a local 20 percent match of $306,000, which would be provided by the City of Oak Ridge. The combined funding from the TAP award and the local match is $1.53 million.
The overall cost of the Rails to Trails project isn’t clear. The property has not been purchased, and the TAP grant, federal money disbursed here through the Federal Highway Act, does not include purchase, Oak Ridge Community Development Director Kathryn Baldwin told City Council members on Monday.
“This is not the total amount,” Baldwin said. “This does not include purchase.” [Read more…]