New trail will connect Albany State University to downtown Albany
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A new running and biking trail system is now under construction in Albany.
The project connects Albany State University with downtown, creating an optimistic economic outlook for the Good Life City.
“It’s exciting. It’s exciting to get to this point,” ASU President Marion Fedrick said.
There was lots of excitement in the air amongst county and city governments to get the trail construction started. The trail has been talked about for many years.
“The government runs slow but we eventually get there,” Dougherty County Commissioner for Ward 3, Clinton Johnson said.
There are two phases to the project the county is working on. The first is a 1.3-mile trail connecting Albany State students to downtown.
The second phase will take the trail and extend it to Radium Springs. This would create more than 10 miles of continuous trail. That portion of the project has not been funded yet and will take at least another three years to get started, according to county officials.
The trail will begin on the northeast side of the river and extend 1.3 miles down to Albany State’s old softball field. The trail will not connect directly with any other existing trails. It will connect to Turtle Park. From there, you can join the current trail near Spray Park, or through Veterans Park.
Fedrick said her priority as president is to be a part of the city.
“Our students always asked to be able to safely connect with downtown Albany. I think being a part of the city is what helps us to sell our community to other students. They are not here for just college. They are here for how the whole community involves them,” Fedrick said.
Enrollment is on its way to 7,000 according to Fedrick. That number is increasing. She said current infrastructure doesn’t allow students to safely connect with downtown to shop or hang out.
The sidewalk on Oglethorpe Bridge is thinner, the railings are smaller compared to East Broad. The bridge also wobbles when walking across it. East Broad also allows bikers to cross the bridge.
Downtown businesses are excited to see how traffic will change.
“It’ll be more convenient for them to get here. We love the diversity. We love young people. We just like the traffic,” Kawambee Dorsey, the co-owner of Showroom, said.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard said currently there are not enough businesses downtown right now to attract college students.
“When you have traffic dollars, that’s what ultimately inspires business owners,” Heard said.
Heard says that downtown is safe. The trail will only ease concerns about that.
Albany State Univerity Track and Field Coach Kenneth Taylor is excited about what it means for track training and recruiting.
“It helps to be able to say, ‘let me take you on our little running course here.’ It’s a lot safer there than running on the road,” Taylor said.
Taylor would like to see lights so it’s safer at night and would like more areas to run on grass so runners can reduce injury. He also said that running and biking will help the health of the entire university.
WALB was told the project could be completed as early as September 2023, although weather may delay the project into 2024.
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