Macon and Bibb County officials Monday dedicated a new extension of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail that lengthens the river trail by 3,200 feet.
The new section of the trail picks up in Central City Park and runs along the city’s levee alongside the Ocmulgee River.
The new extension features a crusher run surface, designed specifically with joggers and walkers in mind, officials said. U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Georgia, himself a runner, made the suggestion to officials from NewTown Macon that part of the trail should have a crusher run surface.
Though Marshall wasn’t at Monday’s dedication, he sent a statement in which he confessed that he “snuck in a pre-opening run and can confidently predict the Central City levee trail will get a great deal of use.”
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City and county officials said the trail continues to benefit locals looking to spend time outdoors.
The trail “is a unique asset that sets the Macon community apart from others in Georgia,” Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said. “Some people may walk it from Spring Street to the Otis Redding Bridge, but that’s only the beginning. ... This part of the trail has a different surface. Parts like this let people run and walk and exercise.”
Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen agreed.
“It adds to our continued growth factor in giving people something to do,” Allen said. “Bibb County just began a wellness initiative program, so this gives us more benefits. ... I’m happy we’re working with the private sector on this great initiative.”
Mike Ford, president and CEO of NewTown Macon, which administers the trail, said the downtown section — including the areas at Gateway Park, Central City Park and the Ocmulgee Indians Mounds — extends about eight or nine miles in total.
The levee extension to the trail was completed through a series of grants, including $125,000 from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, $30,000 from the E.J. Grassman Trust in New Jersey and $50,000 from the James H. Porter Foundation. It took about six months to complete the work on it.
The next section of the trail to be worked on will be the Riverside Drive streetscape, which is receiving a grant from the city.
The project still needs to be approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.