Construction on one of the most anticipated legs of the ongoing Mountain Goat Trail in Grundy County will begin this fall in Tracy City, connecting its elementary school with its downtown area.
The 10-foot-wide, paved trail will run just more than a mile long on the old Mountain Goat Railroad rail bed. It is scheduled to start in October, the first of three trail projects totaling six miles that will be completed by 2019, Mountain Goat Trail Alliance executive director Patrick Dean said.
Tracy City got a $604,000 Alternatives Transportation grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to pay for the work. Segments of the Mountain Goat Trail from Sewanee east to Monteagle already are complete. The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance is providing technical assistance to Tracy City.
The Mountain Goat Railroad was built in 1853 as a spur of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, which carried coal from local mines, and, later, passengers. The line ran from Sewanee in Franklin County to Monteagle, Tracy City, Coalmont, Gruetli- Laager and Palmer in Grundy County. Westward, the rail line ran to Cowan down one of the steepest railroad slopes in the world, from which it got its name.
Tracy City Mayor Larry Phipps sees big benefits for the town.
"The Mountain Goat Trail will give our residents a safe place to exercise and be outside," Phipps said. "It will also give visitors another way to enjoy our town."
"Connectivity" is the key word for the Mountain Goat Trail, which eventually will link seven towns in Grundy and Franklin counties. In Tracy City, it will give schoolchildren a safe way to walk or bike from home to Tracy City Elementary School, Dean said.
"And we are planning a connector from the trail over to the South Cumberland State Park Visitor Center," he. said.
The first 1.2-mile portion of the trail in Tracy City will connect the school and downtown. The second, two-mile leg will head west from the school to Ingman Cliff Road, and the third will run about three miles from Ingman Cliff Road to Monteagle near the Du Bose Conference Center. The latter two segments are funded by a Recreational Trails Program grant from the state Department of Environment and Conservation and a Project Diabetes grant through the state Department of Health.
Officials hope to do the next three segments one after another to allow construction to continue nonstop, which should help reduce costs, Dean said.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.