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Sewer line being moved so pedestrian/bicycling tunnel can be built under Atlanta Highway
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Ground is dug up near the location where an unexpected sewer line was found while clearing land for a pedestrian/bicycling tunnel for the Highlands to Islands trail along Atlanta Highway near the Georgia Department of Labor office in Gainesville. The discovery has delayed the trail’s construction and has added costs to the project. - photo by Erin O. Smith

A $120,000 sewer line project is underway to clear the way for construction of a pedestrian/bicycling tunnel as part of a newly opened section of the Highlands to Islands Trail.

Hall County officials have long planned to extend the trail from the Chicopee Woods side of Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 to the west side of the road via a 10-foot-wide tunnel that is essentially a box culvert.

But they ran into an obstacle “when we were getting ready to build the tunnel … (and) discovered it was in conflict” with an existing sewer line, public utilities director Ken Rearden has said.

Basically, the line will need to be moved for the tunnel work to start.

“We are moving the utilities right now,” County Engineer Kevin McInturff said last week. “There is a big hole and some equipment out there.”

Tunnel construction should start near the end of May or early June, and work should take 5-6 months to complete, he said.

The lighted tunnel will be 9 feet tall, with the top of the culvert at least 4 feet below Atlanta Highway, according to an artist rendering of the structure.

It will be built near the Georgia Department of Labor office between Tumbling Creek Road and Frontage Road.

Once done, it will complete a vital link to the Highlands to Islands Trail’s Chicopee section, which runs 2.5 miles to Palmour Drive near the Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

Officials dedicated the section, which features an 11-foot wide concrete trail, in an April 23 ceremony.

Part of the trail winds through the historic Chicopee Village.

The $2.3 million project is being funded by federal and Hall County SPLOST funds and is part of the larger Highlands to Islands Trail Alliance.

“The Highlands to Islands Trail is a rename of a hope that all of the individual trails that are across Hall County can be connected,” said Elizabeth Higgins with Vision 2030, a community project sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce to provide a common vision for the area in the year 2030.

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