In the making for nearly a decade, a major link in the Central Hall Multi-use Trail is now under construction.
Crews with Vertical Earth of Cumming have started grading and otherwise setting the path for the trail, which is set to run along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway between Palmour Drive in Gainesville and Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia-Gainesville in Oakwood.
Much of the work is taking place in the historic Chicopee Mill Village off Ga. 13.
Jody Woodall, Hall road projects manager, said he expects a ceremony of some kind to mark completion of the work, expected in September.
“We’ll do a ribbon-cutting and that kind of thing,” he said.
Officials have talked for years about developing a pedestrian and bicycle network for area residents, possibly running deeper into South Hall, including Flowery Branch.
Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway already is in place from just south of Jesse Jewell Parkway to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Grove and Pine streets.
Eventually, it could extend east to E.E. Butler Parkway and south to Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport and the Central Hall trail.
The current $2.3 million project was scaled back from original plans because of lesser funding.
The trail was slated to travel nearly 3 miles, but now “we’re going to carry it as far toward Lanier Tech property as we can,” Woodall has said.
Trail specifications are changing, too. Plans call for a 10-foot asphalt trail, instead of a 12-foot concrete one.
“Benches and trash cans are included in the project,” Woodall said. “... And then there’s a little bit of landscaping around the (state) Department of Labor as the trail goes very close to the building there.”
A tunnel under Ga. 13 also is planned as part of the work
Woodall said he’s not sure when that phase will take place, noting that it will require shifting traffic on Ga. 13.
The entire project is being funded by federal dollars and the county’s special purpose local option sales tax.
The work in Chicopee Village, where a couple of trees have been taken down as part of the project, hasn’t necessarily thrilled Chicopee residents.
“We’re not against change, per se, only that which represents a threat to the historic integrity, property values or aesthetic appeal of Chicopee Village,” said Andrea Chastain, president of the Association of Chicopee Village Residents.
The community dates to the 1920s when Johnson & Johnson built the Chicopee Mill. At one time, the village featured its own general store, barbershop, clinic and school.