Porterdale to clear land for trail

PORTERDALE - The city will use some remaining funds from its 1995 special purpose local option sales tax to connect its walking trail to a multi-use trail planned by Newton County.

Newton County's multi-use trail will eventually run from the Yellow River in western Newton County to the Alcovy River in eastern Newton County.

Council members reached a consensus at their Tuesday night work session to use some $9,500 in remaining transportation SPLOST funds to rent a Bobcat and have a city employee clear the area for the trail bed. That work will make it possible for walkers using the circular trail around the old Porterdale ballpark to eventually connect to the portion of the county's multi-use trail plan called the Turkey Creek/Yellow River Trail.

"The idea would be that (Public Works director) Robert Witcher could do the clearing for us, and all we really need to do is rent the equipment," City Manager Tom Fox said.

Council members agreed that connecting with the planned trail system will build on momentum generated by the Fourth of July fireworks celebration in the town and will be another step toward drawing more recreation and tourism dollars to the town.

"The momentum is rolling our way, and we need to capitalize on it," Councilman Robert Foxworth said.

The Turkey Creek/Yellow River Trail section is one part of a multi-component trail system planned by Newton County. The multi-use trails will eventually connect the Yellow River outside of Porterdale to the Alcovy River in eastern Newton County.

According to Cheryl Delk, special projects coordinator for Newton County, the Turkey Creek/Yellow River Trail will be a 10-foot wide paved trail approximately 4.5 miles long. The trail will include a pedestrian bridge over the Yellow River. The cost of this section of trail is estimated at $3 million. So far, the county has been awarded $2 million in grants for the project, which is expected to be bid on in 2010.

This section of the trail will extend from the walking trail at Turner Lake Park in Covington, along a creek to the Yellow River, and then following the Yellow River sewer easement to Newton County High School and Porterdale Elementary.

Other sections of the trail system include a 3-mile segment running from the Newton County Library east to Eastside High School and on to the Alcovy River.

According to Delk, the Library to Eastside section, which is expected to be completed in 2010, will include a 20-foot-wide pedestrian tunnel underneath Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. This project is estimated to cost $2 million, with $1.2 million in grants already awarded. Delk said the county has submitted applications to make up the shortfall.