Rails to Trails dream still alive - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rails to Trails dream still alive

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

October 2, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

It's been nearly a decade since a dream was born to convert abandoned South Georgia railroad tracks into a paved biking and walking nature trail.

That dream is still alive, and advocates say they are sure Rails to Trails will someday become a realty.

Looking at the old railroad tracks in Lee County, now overgrown with pine trees ten feet tall, you can see just how long the fight to make Rails to Trails exercise track has gone on, but organizers are not giving up.

Rails to Trails Board Chairman Greg McCormack said "Still alive, still active, still trying to hopefully get some pavement on the ground in the next few years."

The Riverfront Walk in Albany is an example of what Rails to Trails hoped ten years ago to build from Albany to Dawson. But they were tied up in court battles for five years with property owners bordering the trail.  Then an active rail line stopped them for another three years. But in the last 18 months the group has bought clear title from Armena Road in Lee County all the way to the Albany Riverwalk.

McCormack said "Eventually we would tie all the way into the trail system in downtown Albany. So at some point in time you could get on your bicycle at Chehaw and maybe be able to ride all the way to Sasser. You might be able to ride all the way down to Radium Springs. So you might have 35 miles of contiguous paved trail with no vehicular traffic on it."

Organizers say it would be a good life asset, and tourism draw.

McCormack said "A lot of people in Albany would be amazed at how wonderful it is to get out with your family. Walking, roller blading, pushing your stroller, riding your bicycle, and not having to worry about traffic."

Now money is the issue.  Federal grants are available, but South Georgians will have to contribute too. And during tough economic times, organizers know that could mean more years waiting for the Rails to Trails dreams to become reality.

This Saturday the River Front Run will raise money for Rails to Trails.

The Dougherty County Medical Society is sponsoring the run and says the exercise trail would be good for South Georgians' health.

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