7-mile linear park could link downtown, East Main, Highland Park, East Lake neighborhoods

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Matt Lyle gestures at the site of an old railroad line in Highland Park that could be part of a 7-mile pedestrian link running from downtown to East Lake called the East Line.

A seven-mile-long urban trail, slicing from downtown Chattanooga to East Lake that roughly follows old rail lines through the city's rich manufacturing past, is under study as a way to offer a new walking and bike pathway.

Dubbed the East Line, the linear park would run through and link 10 neighborhoods and is envisioned as one day rivaling the city's Riverwalk, said Matt Lyle, a leader in the effort who works at Franklin Architects.

"It's like it's this hidden gem that has potential to bring so many positive things to so many different communities," he said.

The East Line could start in downtown's Innovation District and meander east toward the National Cemetery and through a number of redeveloping areas in the East Main Street corridor and Highland Park, a map shows. Then, it would turn south and track Missionary Ridge as it moves into East Lake.