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Trail tunnel construction could start in early December
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Equipment is in place for construction on a tunnel under Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 as part of a pedestrian/bicycling trail. Work could start in early December.

Work on a pedestrian/bicycling tunnel under Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 near the Georgia Department of Labor could begin in early December.

The work, targeted for completion by early fall 2017, will require a traffic shift, with a crew possibly at the site Saturday doing some restriping, Hall County civil engineer Denise Farr said.

“Once traffic can be safely shifted, we will begin opening the road for tunnel construction,” she said.

The work schedule depends on the weather, Farr added.

“The portion of the tunnel under Atlanta Highway is not pre-formed,” she said. “Therefore, we will be pouring concrete during the winter months. This can be rather tedious, as there are certain conditions related to weather that are not conducive to pouring concrete.”

Equipment for the job was in place on a rainy Tuesday on the Department of Labor side of the planned tunnel, where “the footings and foundation for retaining walls have been poured, along with a portion of the walls,” Farr said.

The tunnel represents a major link in 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 Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

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

The $2.3 million project is being funded by federal funds and Hall County special purpose local option sales tax money.

Eventually, Gainesville would like to extend the trail from Palmour Drive to Queen City Parkway/Ga. 60.

That project would mirror Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway, an urban path for pedestrians and bicyclists, running south of Jesse Jewell Parkway/Ga. 369.

A greenway section near the century-old Gainesville Mill opened in the spring, and Gainesville is working on a phase that would involve trail construction from MLK Jr. Boulevard to Industrial Boulevard.

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