The City of Oak Ridge continues to work on a Rails to Trails project that has been planned for years and will convert 4.6 miles of unused railroad into a greenway for walkers, runners, and bicyclists.
The city will have a drop-in public meeting about the project from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 10, in the Oak Ridge Civic Center Gym. The trail design and next steps will be presented, and the city will seek input from residents. Masks are encouraged at the meeting, the city said.
The greenway along the former CSX railroad will extend from east Oak Ridge past Jefferson Middle School to Y-12 National Security Complex. It will start at Elza Gate at the Oak Ridge Turnpike; run along Belgrade Road, Warehouse Road, Fairbanks Road, and Lafayette Drive; and cross South Illinois Avenue to the Y-12 National Security Complex entrance on Scarboro Road.
“The greenway system brings parkland nearer to all Oak Ridge citizens,” Recreation and Parks Director Jon Hetrick said. “It provides opportunity for motor-less commuting, enjoyable physical exercise, learning experiences about wildlife, and connections to parks, schools, and shopping areas.”
Project funding was initially awarded in 2017 through a Transportation Alternatives Program grant administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to help with preliminary studies, design, and acquisition of the right-of-way. Then, the fiscal year 2020-2023 Knoxville Regional Transportation Improvement Program, a four-year work program approved by the Federal Highway Administration, allocated federal transportation funds for 80% of the full construction cost of the 4.6-mile greenway, based on a total project cost of $4.4 million, a press release said.
Currently, the city’s consultant has completed preliminary studies and design, and the next phase is railway acquisition, the press release said.
“Aside from creating a safe and secure corridor for cyclists and pedestrians that is accessible from surrounding neighborhoods, the greenway will help to expand a greater network of greenways, trails, and sidewalk connections for people to use,” City of Oak Ridge Community Development Planner Nathalie Schmidt said.
“To learn more about how the Rails to Trails project supports all three over-arching goals of the Oak Ridge City Blueprint, a community visionary plan that declares that Oak Ridge will improve through planned strategic growth and by knowing and preserving its most cherished values, visit http://oakridgeblueprint.info,” the press release said. For questions or more information, email [email protected].
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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