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Legislators back Greenway with words, funds
When completed, the 155-mile Coastal Georgia Greenway will provide bicycle/pedestrian paths from Tybee Island to St. Marys. - photo by Map provided

The 20-year effort to build a bicycle-pedestrian path through coastal Georgia from Savannah to St. Marys has been given a boost by the 2016 Legislature.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs received $100,000 to pass on to the Coastal Regional Commission, as project manager, which will oversee an engineering study to verify the 155-mile route linking South Carolina to Florida through Georgia’s six coastal counties. Already, 24 percent of the route is existing or funded for construction.

The engineering study will update current cost estimates. (Completion of the project is estimated to run between $50 million and $60 million). It will also make recommendations to complete the project in four phases within 10 years.

Issues to be addressed include major bridges, railroad crossings and existing natural, recreational and educational sites that will become trailheads to access the trail.

In addition to the funding, the legislators approved Senate Resolution 730, which provides a joint House/Senate resolution encouraging the Coastal Regional Commission and other entities to support implementation of the Coastal Georgia Greenway. Sponsors of SR 730 were Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, and Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah.

SR 730 recognizes the economic, health, recreational and environmental benefits from the trail, and it encourages the Coastal Regional Commission to oversee implementation of the greenway in collaboration with the Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources and Coastal Georgia Greenway, a nonprofit organization.

The Coastal Georgia Greenway Inc. will have its annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on St. Simons Island, at Neptune Park in the Casino Building, Room 114. The public is invited to attend to learn about the project.

“My view of the greenway is this is an absolute win-win situation for the counties along the coast,” state Rep. Jeff Jones. R-St. Simons Island, said. “I support all the ways of getting it built. We need to figure out a way to make it happen. It’ll more than pay for itself. It will have a huge economic impact.”

To learn more about the project, go to www.coastalgeorgia

Hickson is volunteer CEO of Coastal Georgia Greenway Inc.

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