A meeting to talk about plans and ideas for the newly dubbed “Highlands to Islands” trail could take place in August.
The network had its start as the “Hall County Trails Initiative,” which has been shepherded by the Vision 2030 Green Space Committee, an offshoot of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Its new name — and official logo — were approved in May by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee.
The MPO is the Hall area’s lead transportation planning agency and the policy committee, made up of top elected officials, is its decision-making arm.
Work is underway on the Central Hall Multi-use Trail, running along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway between Palmour Drive in Gainesville and Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia-Gainesville in Oakwood.
Much of the work, passing motorists likely have noticed, is taking place in the historic Chicopee Mill Village off Ga. 13. The new trail could open this fall.
Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway already is in place from just south of Jesse Jewell Parkway to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Grove and Pine streets.
Eventually, it could extend east to E.E. Butler Parkway and south to Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport and the Central Hall trail.
There’s still plenty of work ahead, officials have said.
“In order to accomplish a really great, comprehensive trail network, it will take lots of funding,” said Phil Bonelli, a committee member helping to lead the trail effort, in a May interview.
“A lot of trails we’ve looked at in different communities ... have a lot of private funding.”
Governments can apply for road grants, loans
Area governments can start applying Aug. 3 for grants and loans from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank to help pay for road projects.
In 2014, the bank awarded Gainesville a $522,125 grant for work along Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road/Jesse Jewell Parkway.
And Flowery Branch received a $650,000 grant and $950,000 loan for the Lights Ferry Connector, which is under construction and will run between Ga. 13 and McEver Road.
The bank was established in 2008 by the General Assembly and is administered by the State Road and Tollway Authority.
Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: