This project will complete the Firefly Trail in the most durable, low-maintenance materials possible, and provide for parking, restrooms, connections, and other necessities.
Athens-Clarke County will be home to about 7.7 miles of the Firefly Trail, a rail-trail which, when complete, will stretch some 39 miles from Athens to Union Point along the historic corridor of the Georgia Railroad Athens Branch. Using previous SPLOST funds and federal grants, the first 0.8 miles of the trail opened in October 2017 from East Broad Street to Old Winterville Road, except for a railroad-grade crossing of Trail Creek.
In March 2017, Athens-Clarke County voters approved a Transportation SPLOST that included $16.7 million for the Firefly Trail, a reduction of about 30 percent from the original request of $25 million. The hope was that the funds, even at this reduced level, would fully pave the trail within Winterville, provide for a grade-level crossing of Trail Creek, acquire all remaining rights-of-way in Athens-Clarke, and provide a continuous trail for the entire ACC segment, although possibly with asphalt or gravel instead of concrete (a savings in construction costs of about 20 percent for asphalt; much more for gravel).
It has become clear that TSPLOST funds will not be adequate to complete the trail in concrete and that an asphalt surface will result in significant maintenance costs over time compared to concrete.
This project intends to "fill the gap" by providing funds to:
A. pave the entire length of the trail in ACC in concrete
B. complete the trail at a width of 12-14 feet, needed for the anticipated user volume
C. ensure the integrity of the Firefly Trail by installing a bridge at trail grade over a new on-ramp that will connect Lexington Road with Outer Loop 10
D. create a major trailhead with parking, restrooms, running water, a pavilion, security features, landscaping and possibly a playscape
E. create a minor trailhead with parking only
F. fully connect the Firefly Trail to Winterville Elementary School, Coile Middle School, adjacent neighborhoods, and nearby business corridors
G. create and post tourist-friendly way-finding signage
H. Establish an unpaved mountain bike trail within the corridor and/or at appropriate locations adjacent to the corridor