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Officials: New Hall trail system nice, but needs funding

POSTED: December 16, 2013 11:22 p.m.

A committee exploring bike and pedestrian options in Hall County raised concerns Monday about future funding and maintenance of a trail system.

“What concerns me ... is we’re going to create this beautiful plan and there’s going to be nothing built because there’s just no money,” Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said. “We’ve got to concentrate on finding some money.”

Andrew is part of a Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Planning Organization group that’s working to update the transportation planning agency’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

The agency’s 2040 Metropolitan Planning Plan, which draws upon the 2006 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, is slated for an update of its own, a process set to begin next year and be completed by August 2015.

Much of Monday’s discussion centered on ways to create a trail system that spans the county and takes advantage of current trail systems and road projects built to “complete street” standards. Those are streets that allow for all travel modes, including vehicular, pedestrians, bicycles and transit.

Richard Fangmann, director of transportation planning for Pond & Co. in Norcross, agreed “the one thing that’s a concern as we move forward to implement a trail system is the costs associated there.”

One idea discussed was corporate sponsorships and how they could figure into project costs.

“You could get people to build a section of it, but it’s probably more likely going to be (them) maintaining a section,” Fangmann said.

“If you get a destination trail and you have some business owners in town who say they really want to be a part of that, you may get some construction money. It’s not cheap to build these things.”

Costs could run up to $700,000 per mile.

And adding dollars to a future trail system is maintenance.

Andrew said he noticed a trail in Suwanee “that was so covered in pine needles that you could barely see (the path). Any of these paths need to be kept up.”

“I just have a feeling, based on what I’ve seen in other communities, that this can be one of the most-used facilities in the county,” Andrew said. “And I don’t know that the county is aware of what all that’s going to cost in terms of maintenance, policing and things like that.”

“I think I can assure you that they don’t really have a feel for it,” said Gillsville Mayor Larry Poole, a member of the Hall County Parks and Leisure Services Board. The Parks and Leisure Services Board had also had a meeting on Monday, but Poole said he does not “think that’s even on the radar at this point.”

Hall is developing the Central Hall Multiuse Trail, which would run parallel to Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway from Palmour Drive to the Georgia Department of Labor Office at 2756 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville.

A second phase calls for running the trail behind Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus in Oakwood. A third project calls for construction of a pedestrian tunnel under Atlanta Highway.

Bidding on the Central Hall project could take place in April.

The committee, which is looking to hold its next meeting in January, also is looking at deciding on a catchy name for the Central Hall project.

“Maybe there’s something along the Chattahoochee River theme or something like that,” Fangmann said.


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