published Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Stepping forward: Mountain Goat Trail gets $200,000 grant go-ahead on next phase work

Janice Thomas, president of the Mountain Goat Alliance Board, and Patrick Dean, Recreational Trails Program "RTP" coordinator, talk while walking along an old rail bed at the intersection of Industrial Park Road and Parton Farm Road (also known as Pigeon Springs Road) in Tracy City, Tenn., which is targeted for an all-access RTP expansion. The The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance in Grundy County recently received a $200,000 grant for continuing work on the all-access trail system following the old Mountain Goat Railroad line.
Janice Thomas, president of the Mountain Goat Alliance Board, and Patrick Dean, Recreational Trails Program "RTP" coordinator, talk while walking along an old rail bed at the intersection of Industrial Park Road and Parton Farm Road (also known as Pigeon Springs Road) in Tracy City, Tenn., which is targeted for an all-access RTP expansion. The The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance in Grundy County recently received a $200,000 grant for continuing work on the all-access trail system following the old Mountain Goat Railroad line.
Photo by Dan Henry.

ABOUT THE GRANT

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Gov. Bill Haslam's office announced the grant in August as part of $1.694 million in statewide awards to projects in a dozen Tennessee counties. In the Chattanooga region, Cumberland County received a $30,000 grant for expansion and restoration of a secondary trail in Obed River Park to improve accessibility and amenities.

MONTEAGLE, Tenn. — The Mountain Goat Trail project on Monteagle Mountain just got two kicks in the pants for the next and future segments of trail work in the areas of Monteagle, Palmer and Tracy City.

The first boost for the Mountain Goat Trail project -- which consists of plans for a smooth, walkable trail from Cowan, Tenn., in Franklin County to Palmer, Tenn., in Grundy County -- came in August in the form of a $200,000 Recreational Trails Program grant, according to Mountain Goat Trail Alliance board President Janice Thomas and staff grant writer Patrick Dean.

The second bit of good news came from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which approved the start of work on the trail segment between Sewanee and Monteagle, Dean and Thomas said. The first-phase piece of the trail in Sewanee is complete almost to the Franklin-Grundy county line.

The Mountain Goat Trail is a rail-to-trail project to convert 35 to 40 miles of the abandoned Mountain Goat Railroad right of way into a multiuse recreational corridor between Grundy and Franklin counties.

The $200,000 grant will fund about two miles of trail work that could be started inside the city limits of Tracy City and Palmer, or possibly another section somewhere between, Dean and Thomas said.

The effort to fund the next phase kicks off Friday with a capital campaign in partnership with the Land Trust of Tennessee to raise $83,000 for property acquisition along the rail bed in the next leg of trail between Monteagle and Tracy City.

Thomas said she's excited about the possibilities the trail will offer residents of the communities along the trail, and especially the schools, which include Marion County's Monteagle Elementary School and Grundy's Tracy City Elementary, Swiss Memorial Elementary and Palmer Elementary schools.

The trail already has fans on the completed end near Sewanee.

"We're ready for it to be up and running," Sewanee resident Claire Cabe said Wednesday. "I bicycle and I Rollerblade on it. It's a nice, shaded area."

Mooney's Market and Emporium owner Joan Thomas, no relation to Janice, said her 15-month-old business attracts mostly tourists and visitors to the area. The trail will generate more business "for ice cream and drinks," she said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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