Bidding now could take place in August on construction of Hall County’s first stretches of the nearly 15-mile Central Hall Multiuse Trail.
The long-anticipated project has had several target starts, including mid-2012, with the latest delay due to tweaks to the trail’s pathway design.
“The trail alignment has shifted a few feet in areas where there were utility impacts and to increase the distance between the trail and (Georgia) Department of Labor,” said Hall County civil engineer Jody Woodall.
The revisions “are small, but they will change the right-of-way areas that we are negotiating on,” he said.
The trail has been in the works for several years and includes planned segments running through Gainesville and into portions of South and West Hall. A portion of the Midtown Greenway is open, leading pedestrians through Midtown Gainesville from Industrial Boulevard to Jesse Jewell Parkway.
Currently under design is a stretch that will run along Atlanta Highway between Palmour Drive and near Frontage Road, including through the historic Chicopee Village.
The second phase will run from the Department of Labor office off Atlanta Highway to near Lanier Technical College and University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.
When completed, the trail will be 12 feet wide, which officials think should accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists traveling in both directions. The tunnel under Atlanta Highway will basically be a box culvert.
The project’s first two phases, as well as the tunnel, are expected to cost about $3 million, with the bulk of funding from the federal government. Other funding is coming from the state’s Transportation Enhancement program and Hall’s special purpose local option sales taxes.
Construction, whenever it starts, is estimated to take 8-12 months, Woodall said.
Residents of Chicopee Village — a former mill community that has remained largely intact since its founding in 1927 — aren’t particularly happy with the trail pushing into their property.
“None of the residents of the neighborhood I’ve spoken with want the trail,” said Andrea Chastain, president of Association of Chicopee Village Residents. “The only people I’ve conversed with anywhere who seem in favor of the project are those who have outside interests.”
The trail is expected to “meander along the front of the village through the large oak trees,” Woodall said.
The stand of trees, towering over Atlanta Highway, is one of the community’s most recognizable landmarks.
“Our intent is to minimize impacts to any of the trees,” Woodall said. “If it is unavoidable to disturb a tree or if the trail damages the roots, we may have to remove that tree.
“We are showing areas on the plans for replanting trees in that area, if needed.”