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Officials look at options for joining 2 area trail systems
A pedestrian tunnel is being built under Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 as part of Hall County’s Highlands to Islands trail system.

Gainesville is hoping to study how best to connect two major trail systems now separated by a major four-lane road, Queen City Parkway/Ga. 60.

The Midtown Greenway ends at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard east of Queen City. And Highlands to Islands Trail’s Chicopee Section ends up at Palmour Drive west of the parkway.

And there’s a lot of developed property in between, including Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

“We’re just wanting to … figure out the best route that’s most feasible,” said Rhonda Brady, Gainesville’s transportation engineering manager, at an April 19 area roads planning meeting.

Among other things, a study could show how the trail might intertwine with intersections between the two trails, such as Palmour Drive at Aviation Boulevard and Georgia Avenue at Industrial Boulevard.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s decision-making Policy Committee voted earlier in May to recommend pursuing federal transportation money for the study.

The MPO is the Hall County area’s lead transportation planning agency.

Jessica Tullar, the city’s special projects manager, said last week the study “will look at possible physical connections, but I believe it also will provide cost estimates.

“Funding for construction of the connection is unknown at this time.”

For years, Gainesville has been developing its Midtown Greenway, an urban path for pedestrians and bicyclists, running south of Jesse Jewell Parkway.

Some midtown street improvements, such as landscaping, are planned along Parker Street, Main Street and College Avenue to connect to the existing greenway on Parker, Tullar has said.

“We are awaiting final approval on our preliminary engineering plans,” she said in an email last week.

A greenway section near the century-old Gainesville Mill opened last spring, and Gainesville is working on a phase that would involve trail construction from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Industrial Boulevard, along an old CSX railroad line the city bought.

Hall County has been involved in building the Highlands to Islands Trail’s Chicopee Section, a pedestrian/bicycling trail that runs mostly parallel to Ga. 13 as it winds past the Chicopee Woods Golf Course and historic Chicopee Village.

The 11-foot wide concrete path then juts off through woods and ends up at Palmour Drive near the airport.

The trail, which opened in spring 2016, is 2 ½ miles long.

Meanwhile, work is well underway on a pedestrian/bicycling tunnel under Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 near the Georgia Department of Labor. Officials have said the work could be completed by early fall.

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