Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway, a winding trail that offers an urban escape for walkers and bikers, is poised for a long-awaited expansion, possibly beginning this summer.
“We are excited,” said Jessica Tullar, special projects manager for the Gainesville Community Development Department.
A pathway is now in place between an area just south of Jesse Jewell Parkway near United Community Bank and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Grove and Pine streets.
The city is looking to expand the trail from MLK to Industrial Boulevard at Pine Street — or just a short jog from Queen City Parkway/Ga. 60. The project also is known as the greenway’s second phase.
“Parking and other park amenities may come in the future after Gainesville Parks & Recreation can master plan that park space,” Tullar said last week.
A decision on the work could come soon, as the city had a May 30 deadline to receive bids on the project.
“We’re still reviewing bid responses and hope to make our selection among those responses within the next few days,” Tullar said. “If we’re able to select from among the bids received, we anticipate work beginning on or around the end of July.”
The work could wrap up in spring 2020, even though “we don’t anticipate (the project) taking that long,” she added.
The project features a trailhead, benches, trash cans, bike racks, landscaping, lighting and fiber optic cable for a future security camera system, according to a legal advertisement for the project.
Also planned are sidewalks on Parker Street, as well as on Main Street between Parker and College Avenue. Sidewalks also are planned on College Avenue between Main and Bradford Street.
Tony Herdener, chairman of Vision 2030’s greenspace committee, applauded the efforts.
“People are seeing this as an alternative to roads,” he said. “It kind of cuts across all the interest groups — people who just want to walk their baby and then walkers, strollers and so forth.”
Also, “the feedback we get from other communities is do it as soon as you can, because you have (trails) in place, it’s going to be more difficult as other development takes place.”
The second phase shows just how slow-moving trail efforts can take.
“We received the first round of (state) money, $400,000, in 2011, and another $100,000 in 2012,” Tullar said. “We were trying to save as much money as possible for construction, so we did all of the original design work, environmental studies and right of way acquisition in-house.”
Right of way was secured in 2018.
Also, the city has been working with the Georgia Department of Transportation, which provided funding, on the project.
More trail work could be on the horizon, beyond the second phase.
Ultimately, the goal is to connect to the Highlands to Islands Trail, a multi-use trail system that will connect several existing and future trails throughout Hall County.
The third phase of the greenway could connect Industrial Boulevard to Queen City Parkway.
“We haven’t received any funding for that. We were denied the first time we applied, and we’re reapplying,” Tullar said.
The Hall County portion of Highlands to Islands, which includes pathways through historic Chicopee Village, ends at Palmour Drive near Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.
The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall area’s lead transportation planning agency, has been involved with the efforts as well.
The organization voted in February to approve Gainesville and South Hall trail studies.
A trail system is proposed to run through South Hall, as well.The Gainesville Trail Study explored possible routes to connect the Midtown Greenway to the north end of the Chicopee Trail. The South Hall Trail Study explored possible routes connecting the Oakwood and Chicopee Trail areas with the multi-use path along Friendship Road near Flowery Branch.