Rockdale BOC to vote on trail plan
Greenway would connect Conyers, Newton County

CONYERS - Recreational walking, running and biking may get a little easier - even be encouraged - as Rockdale County commissioners heard from Ed Shirey, who is hoping to get the wheels going for creating a multi-use trail with Atlanta's PATH Foundation.

Calling it an opportunity to create a "string of pearls," the Conyers-Covington Cycling Club member explained the greenway trail as a joint effort between Conyers and Rockdale and Newton counties for a paved, multi-use trail, running from Olde Town Conyers to Covington.

The three neighboring entities would each contribute about $10,600 to begin pre-planning, which includes GIS mapping and determining trail destinations. The agreement was presented during the commissioners' Monday work session for a vote in their regular meeting today.

"If you stop and put it all together pretty quickly, you would have 30 to 40 miles of trail," said Michael Smith, deputy director of General Services & Engineering, after Monday's meeting.

Some $1.4 million of federal funding is already in store for the project, but the master planning committee will finalize cost estimates from the three governments for completion of the trail.

The agreement is not a budgeted item for Rockdale.

But benefits would outweigh the costs, according to Shirey, noting how such projects bring in tourism dollars.

"We're a forward-thinking community, and we have amenities for them like this," Shirey said.

Newton County committed to participate, with plans in the works since last year, according to county special projects coordinator Cheryl Delk.

Now the focus is to convince decision-makers to pick the area to run the trail. And it is a request worth pursuing, "on this side of Atlanta,' according to Shirey.

Shirey added that he knew of an effort to build a similar trail from downtown Atlanta through Roswell and Alpharetta to Athens. He noted how the popularity of the Silver Comet Trail, that stretches from Smyrna to Anniston, Ala., has increased tourism and economic development there.

Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden seemed to agree, noting how it would allow the county to preserve greenspace and provide residents an alternative to vehicle transportation.

"We're really looking forward to the collaboration with our neighbors," Delk said.

Alena Parker can be reached at alena.parker@rockdalecitizen.com