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Liberty commissioners support Coastal Greenway

POSTED: February 12, 2016 10:00 a.m.
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A map put out by the volunteer organization, Coastal Georgia Greenway Inc., shows the series of various kinds of trails running from Savannah to St. Marys, including through the Midway and Riceboro areas.

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The Liberty County Board of Commissioners recently approved a resolution supporting the Coastal Georgia Greenway project.

The resolution endorses an appropriation by the General Assembly for at least $1 million in the next state budget to start construction on the greenway, spearheaded by the Coastal Regional Commission.

The East Coast Greenway is a proposed system of bicycle and pedestrian trails along 2,900 miles from Maine to Florida. Georgia’s section is a 155-mile trail from Savannah to St. Marys. The trail would follow Highway 17 and other corridors as it travels through six coastal counties, including Liberty.

Jo Hickson, a member of the Joint Coastal Greenway Study Committee, shared some of the committee’s recommendations and asked that commissioners approve the resolution.

“We’re trying to get resolutions from all the local cities and counties to show that 100 percent of the coast is for this,” she said. “I have worked on this project for 20 years, and if it takes another 10 years, I’m happy.”

Hickson added that if the state funds $1 million per year for 10 years, that could be matched locally and the Joint Coastal Greenway Study Committee could apply for funds to have a route from Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge to Geechee Kunda.

Other recommendations from the study include the Coastal Regional Commission leading the effort to raise funding from local, state and federal agencies and private donors and for the trail to be off-road or alongside the highway.

“A lot of the trail will be within the U.S. 17 right-of-way, but we don’t want GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) to run away with it and put bike lanes all down the road,” Hickson said. “We actually want to have a physically separated path within the U.S. 17 right-of-way.”

She said that a separated path would be safer for cyclists, particularly for those with less experience riding on the road.

Jim Bacote of Geechee Kunda interpretive center said that he thinks the greenway is an opportunity to put a wonderful, living legacy in place for future generations. He said the greenway would allow people to experience habitat and history firsthand while safely enjoying new and existing places. Hickson said the trail would be a great way to enjoy the rich Gullah-Geechee culture of Liberty County.

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