DUNLAP, Tenn. -- For several years, the mayor and City Council have been working to make Dunlap a safer community for walkers and bicyclists.
Now a new trail is in the works, and the first portion could be open as early as next summer.
"It will be so nice when we're finished," Mayor Dwain Land said. "It's going to be a total of about four miles for walking."
Land said the work is "a 10-year project for the whole thing, but will probably be done a lot sooner."
A walk starting from the Sequatchie County Courthouse will cross Cherry Street and eventually end at the Coops Creek bridge near the Sonic restaurant on Rankin Avenue. At some point, it will cross over Rankin, also known as U.S. Highway 127, and stop.
Another walk is planned to connect with it and make the old railroad bed into a trail for bicyclists and walkers to connect to the complex of Sequatchie High, Sequatchie Middle and Griffith Elementary schools, less than a mile away.
The walking trail by Coops Creek will be funded partially by a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant with matching funds by the city. The other will be funded completely by the TDOT Safe Routes to Schools grant.
Yonna Welding, the mayor's executive assistant, said the trails will include crosswalks for safety, especially for children to travel to school.
"It's a perfect fit for the whole community. I can't wait to use it," she said. "I hear how much people want to get out and walk, ride their bikes. The kids want a place to go, and you want them to have a safe place. My daughter rides bikes, so she would love it."
The city has a long-term plan to make a big loop that would include the Coke Ovens Park, running from the schools' complex, over to the park, down Tram Trail and back to the downtown area.
According to Welding, everything is in place for the first phase, but officials are waiting for the green light from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"There has been a rare species of a plant and an animal that [have] been in this location before," she said. "Of course, the EPA will give us specific instructions on how to [handle] it."
Corrina Sisk-Casson is based in Dunlap. Contact her at email@example.com.