City moving forward with trails

Published 9:29 am Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Andalusia City Council this week agreed to provide the $100,000 match needed to move forward with a $400,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for a rails to trails project.

Mayor Earl Johnson said the funds will be used in the preliminary work for a trail from Andalusia to Opp in an abandoned rail bed. The mayor said the funds will be used for purchasing the property and beginning the work.

“This is a long-term project,” he said. “This is not a two-year or even a five-year project,” he said. “This is a marathon. We have been talking about this a long time, and I think it will be very popular.”

Both Andalusia and Opp have been working for several years in hopes of collaborating with Forever Wild to to convert old railroad beds to multi-use trails. There are 43.8 miles of rail corridor between Andalusia and Geneva that could be used for this purpose.

Johnson said while that may one day be possible, a 16-mile trail is a good start.

“This will bring tourist dollars into our community,” he said. “And the people who travel for hiking and biking these trails, have money to spend.”

Gov. Kay Ivey announced the grant along with nine others totaling 2.7 million in October.

“Alabama is a land of bountiful natural beauty, and our state and local trails are a means to experience and enjoy that outdoor splendor,” Governor Ivey said. “I am pleased to award these grants, and I encourage everyone to enjoy these and any of the many other trails in our state.”

The grants were awarded from funds made available to the state from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the program in Alabama.