Macon riverwalk extension likely to begin this year

alopez@macon.comApril 17, 2014 


Mike Lucas and his 8-year-old daughter Eva walk a section of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail at Riverside Cemetery in April 2013. A proposed extension of the Heritage Trail along the Ocmulgee River is in the final design stages, and work likely will begin before the end of 2014.


A proposed extension of the Heritage Trail along the Ocmulgee River is in the final design stages, and work likely will begin before the end of the year.

Project leaders set up Thursday at the Ocmulgee National Monument Visitor Center to present the plans to residents and answer questions.

“We’ve been talking about this for many years,” said Jim David, Ocmulgee National Monument superintendent.

Construction likely will start this year, cost about $750,000 and take about six months to complete, said engineer Scott Williams of Cran­ston Engineering Group.

Most of the proposed 1.23-mile trail extension will run through Ocmulgee National Monument land, between the river and Interstate 16, and will connect to existing trails near Walnut Creek. A section of the proposed extension, near Otis Redding Bridge, would be built on tracts of land owned by Macon-Bibb County, Georgia Power and Norfolk Southern Railroad Co.

The 10-foot-wide trail is planned to be built with concrete, asphalt or other Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant material, according to the project description.

Thursday evening’s public hearing is part of the final stage in finalizing a required environmental document, which is part of gaining final approval for construction from the Federal Highway Administration.

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” said Lenor Bromberg, whose firm, Kennedy Engineering & Associates, is in charge of the environmental document.

“This is actually funded through the Transportation Enhancement Program, which is a federal grant program,” she said. “The money has actually been designated for this project through an application process, and that will fund the construction.”

The project has been in the works since before 2009 and has taken this long to get going because both the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. National Parks Service had to sign off on designs, David said.

Walking trails have proven to be very popular in Macon-Bibb County, David said.

“We anticipate this getting a phenomenal amount of use,” he said. “Walking along the river is very calming. It’s very nice.”

Macon resident Robert Hargrove and his wife were two of a handful of people who attended Thursday’s public hearing. Hargrove volunteers at the National Monument and also is a supporter of more walking and biking trails.

Hargrove reviewed the design with the project leaders. Besides the prospect of the trail being closed when the river floods, he doesn’t have any objections to the proposed Heritage Trail extension.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who would be opposed to it,” Hargrove said.

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 256-9751.

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