People hoping to walk a little farther on the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail have a few months more to wait.
The trail’s extension awaits word that there is no significant impact on the property, based on an environmental study done on the land affected by the project.
“There were no issues from the archaeological side,” said Ocmulgee National Monument Superintendent Jim David, who also said the ecological aspects had cleared “federal and state hoops.”
NewTown Macon, a downtown booster group, is helping fund the project, and director Josh Rogers said the organization has $220,000 ready for design and engineering and $70,000 for construction. He said the 1.23-mile trail extension was “one of the most exciting sections of trail” in the system, which connects the bridge at Coliseum Drive to the Ocmulgee National Monument.
“So I think that’s going to be a huge amenity for people to enjoy the national monument,” Rogers said.
David said he was hopeful the project could be completed by summer of 2015, which didn’t deter NewTown Macon, Rogers said.
“Any time you’re working with federal funding, it’s always complicated,” he said.
Still, the start date is outside of initial estimates. As of April, David was hopeful construction on the project would start by the end of this year. Involvement with the Federal Highway Administration, Georgia Department of Transportation and others has pushed the date back, he said.
“It definitely took longer than any of us expected,” David said.
The extension is part of an overall effort to update the trail system along the Ocmulgee River, with an end goal of allowing cyclists, hikers, walkers and runners to use the trails. Ideally, the system will connect with trails surrounding the Amerson River Park near Pierce Avenue.
“We’ve still got quite a ways to go,” Rogers said.
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.