Community News Trail study could mean more connections in North Georgia

Community News Trail study could mean more connections in North Georgia

May 4th, 2016 by David Cobb in Community Walker
Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 10/7/15. Kim Edgeman runs through the fog at Chickamauga Battlefield on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 while training for the upcoming Battlefield Marathon.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission wants to know if bicycle and pedestrian trails can help connect area towns to North Georgia natural treasures such as the Chickamauga Battlefield, Lula Lake Land Trust and Cloudland Canyon.

A request for proposals distributed by the NWGRC calls for a feasibility study of the area's existing multi-use trails, their connections to parks and for the recommendation of trails, bike lanes or sidewalks to improve the quality of life and health for residents and attract tourists.

"We work on behalf of our local governments," said NWGRC Director of Regional Planning Julianne Meadows. "And they have come to us and said they want to see some of these connections, that they want to highlight some of the resources in their communities. This is one way, I think, to be able to do that."

Catoosa County, Fort Oglethorpe, Ringgold, Walker County, Rossville, Lookout Mountain, Ga., Chickamauga and Dade County are the areas identified as stakeholders in the project, which is being partially funded through a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.

Consultants have until May 9 to submit a proposal before the stakeholders get together to make a selection. From there, the selected consultant would work with the municipalities and formulate a draft study by this time next year.

The feasibility study would be finalized in August 2017 and turned over to the local municipalities that would be responsible for implementing the suggestions.

The request for proposals cited a 2011 master plan for the Lafayette Road streetscape that discussed the "major" economic boost Fort Oglethorpe would receive from improved bicycle and pedestrian access to the battlefield.

"This is only one example of the economic benefit to be derived for North Georgia communities from a study that would map out a plan for regional bike and pedestrian connections within the counties, as well as to Chattanooga and to neighboring counties in North Georgia," the RFP reads.

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park Superintendent Brad Bennett said in an email that he is not prepared to comment on the request for proposals but that the park is "generally supportive" of connecting regional multi-use trails.