Coastal Georgia public officials, bicyclers, joggers, hikers and walkers are being urged to express their support at 1 p.m. Nov. 4 in Darien for constructing the proposed Coastal Georgia Greenway from Savannah to St. Marys, which would be part of the proposed East Coast Greenway from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida.
The Joint House-Senate Coastal Georgia Greenway Study Committee will hold its second public meeting on the proposed project at the Coastal Regional Commission office just west of Exit 49 off of Interstate 95 on Highway 251 past the Tidelands Industrial Park.
The committee was established by Senate Resolution 26 authored at the last session of the Georgia General Assembly by state Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, who co-chairs the committee with state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, the House sponsor of the legislation.
The committee consists of four members of the Senate appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, four members of the House appointed by Speaker David Ralston, and the executive director of the Coastal Georgia Greenway Inc.
SR 26 specifies that the committee will make its report to the governor and the General Assembly by Dec. 1.
At the committee’s first public meeting Sept. 21 in Richmond Hill, a number of bike-path supporters urged the committee to recommend that Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly support a line item in the next state budget to begin construction of the 155-mile trail over the next five years.
Approximately 24 percent of the proposed trail through the six coastal counties has already been built with local city or county funds and federal aid, which has dried up in recent years. Most of the existing trail is in Camden, McIntosh and Chatham counties, including a 3-mile stretch being completed now along Highway 99 in McIntosh County that is known locally as the Highlander Trail.
Most of the rest of the trail would be built on the existing state-owned right-of-way off Highway 17, except for a portion in Camden County on the abandoned railroad bed of the former Seaboard Railroad.
In most areas, the trail would be 8 feet or wider constructed with a buffer between the trail and the highway to protect the safety of riders, joggers and walkers from vehicular traffic. The trail would also be handicapped-accessible for motorized wheelchairs.
Speakers at the Sept. 21 meeting said that based on what has happened on similar projects such as the Silver Comet Trail northwest of Atlanta, real-estate values along the trails increase by 10 percent or more while enhancing tourism, local healthy exercise and recreation, and alternative transportation.
At the Richmond Hill meeting, Ligon asked Jo Hickson, the executive director of the Coastal Georgia Greenway Inc., to prepare a cost estimate for the project to present to the committee at Darien.
A map of the proposed project and more information is available on the greenway’s website, coastalgeorgiagreenway.org.
Morrison, of Darien, is a McIntosh County member of the Coastal Georgia Greenway’s board of directors.