JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – A 25-mile biking/walking trail loop that aims to connect every neighborhood in Johnson City is underway.
The project is called the State of Franklin trail, and will branch off the existing 10-mile Tweetsie Trail. Funding for a portion of the trail through the Mountain Home VA’s campus and hospital was approved in the city’s budget this year and is set to start in a few weeks.
Elizabethton resident and avid bike rider, Colby Penley loves his bike and rides on the Tweetsie Trail three to four times a week, 25 to 50 miles per ride. He said he’s looking forward to the planned project so he can enjoy more time outdoors and see new things.
“That’s awesome, especially once I start going out and doing longer distance rides, I can just keep on going,” Penley said.
Johnson City’s Public Works Director, Phil Pindzola said the success of the Tweetsie trail helped inspire this project.
“Tweetsie showed us that people really want to get outdoors,” Pindzola said.
Other portions of the project, like a trail towards the Watauga River, Boone Lake and a portion stretching through downtown businesses on Cherry Street are still up for discussion and are hoping to be approved in future budgets.
Mitch Miller, the CEO of Washington County’s Economic Development Council said Tweetsie has helped spur downtown business, something that will only improve as the trail space grows.
“It’s going to allow us to use the outdoors, recreation as a form of economic development to create jobs, opportunities for wealth,” Miller said.
The project is estimated to cost $5 to $7 million; Pindzola said they plan to deliver the project within a budget, without raises taxes.
Groundbreaking on the section near the VA Mountain Home campus is scheduled to start in a couple of weeks. If fully funded, the entire project could take ten years.
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