Rails to Trails Is On the Right Track

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  It's out with the old and in with the new as the long-awaited Rails to Trails project gains speed in Columbus.

Construction crews have been ripping up rails and ties at key intersections in the city, creating noticeable holes in many citizens commutes.

"We ask drivers to be careful about going across those abandoned track areas. We are going to go back and resurface those areas. We're in the process of doing that but the heavy rains we've had have basically eroded away what was put out there so it has to be replaced," said Planning Director Rick Jones.

That will make way for a fitness trail that will eventually start at the River Walk and end at Psalmond Road.

City planners are taking one step at a time with the first phase of the project that will go from the 14th Street Bridge out to Columbus State University.

Construction should get under way on that part in the next few months.

Officials have already hit the ground running.

The city sold the metal from the rails and officials say that's $500,000 that will be put back into the project.

Rails to Trails is a $12.5 million project funded by the 1999 SPLOST and DOT funds.

Now, taxpayers are finally getting to see it become a reality.

"It will probably take us a good year to get it completed but in a year's time, we should have folks walking, biking, and jogging on the trail itself," Jones added.

City officials say bids for construction on the first phase of the trail will be received by April 5, 2009.

Phase 2 and 3 are under design and officials say bids for construction will go out for them in the summer.

Folks will start to see a lot of work being done on the trail on the near future including two rest areas- one at Hannan Elementary and across from the Peachtree Mall.