A longtime plan to build a bicycle/pedestrian path cutting through a portion of historic Chicopee Village is closer to reality.
Hall County has put the Central Hall Multiuse Trail project out for bids, with proposals due by Sept. 23.
Basically, the project calls for nearly 3 miles of bicycle/pedestrian trail running along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway, crossing Ga. 13 near the Georgia Department of Labor career center and ending near Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.
The trail will start at Palmour Drive in Gainesville, and the work will include construction of a Ga. 13 pedestrian tunnel.
A legal notice published this week states the project also will feature installation of a wooden bridge over Balus Creek, but Hall County civil engineer Jody Woodall said that portion may not happen, depending on available money.
Plus, “the right of way from the state on Lanier Tech was going to be a very lengthy process, so we don’t have right of way across Balus Creek,” Woodall said. “Our intention right now is to carry the trail down to an area of the creek, but not cross it then continue working on the right of way for another phase.”
The trail might end at Lanier Career Center, which is off Tumbling Creek Road.
Mountain bike trails at UNG are nearby, “so what we’re thinking is getting with the college foundation and other property owners and getting a temporary easement” for trail connectivity, Woodall said.
The trail “won’t come straight to a dead end,” he added.
The project has been in the works for about a decade, with federal project awards taking place between 2006 and 2008
Federal funding will make up about 80 percent of costs with the remainder covered by in-house work and Hall County’s special purpose local option sales tax revenue.
If all goes as officials hope, the project could go before Hall County Board of Commissioners for approval in October. Construction could start in November with work taking 4-6 months to complete.
“We’ve worked very closely with the county on that (tunnel) to make sure that the career center’s operations will be maintained throughout the construction,” said Tim Evans, property manager for the Gainesville-Hall County Development Authority, which owns the building leased by the Department of Labor.
Evans, also the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development, said he is otherwise excited about the project, which ultimately will connect with the Midtown Greenway. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a long time in coming.”
The project isn’t pleasing to all.
“We’re not against change, per se, only that which represents a threat to the historic integrity, property values or aesthetic appeal of Chicopee Village,” said Andrea Chastain, president of the Association of Chicopee Village Residents.
The community dates to the 1920s when Johnson & Johnson built the Chicopee Mill. At one time, the village featured its own general store, barbershop, clinic and school.