published Saturday, April 30th, 2011

South Chickamauga trail expansion hits snag

by Cliff Hightower

A greenway trail expansion on South Chickamauga Creek is facing a two-month delay.

Engineers must redesign a bridge and move it away from its original location, said Larry Zehnder, the city’s parks and recreation director.

“We’re about six weeks to two months behind schedule,” Zehnder said. The new opening date is “maybe midsummer,” he said.

He the bridge must be moved because there is loose rock in the original path. He said redesigning the bridge will save about $70,000 and the new location is a shorter distance across the creek.

The 2.6-mile expansion of the South Chickamauga Greenway began early last year. It will add two sections at a cost of $2.9 million. Some portions already exist — one around the Brainerd Levee and the other around the Waterhouse subdivision off Harrison Pike.

One new section pushes the trail to the Tennessee Riverwalk, while the other section brings it closer to the Brainerd Levee trail.

The full trail’s opening date has now been set back, he said.

City Councilman Russell Gilbert, who represents the district where the trail is located, said Friday he’s not bothered by the delay.

“We’ve been waiting so many years for it,” he said. “A couple of months won’t hurt.”

Gilbert said it may end up being to the city’s advantage since children will be out of school on summer vacation and will be able to use the trail once it opens.

Sandy Kurtz, co-chairwoman of the South Chickamauga Creek Alliance, said she thought the delays “had already been straightened out.” But she also said she’s not concerned.

“In due time, we will have our greenway from Camp Jordan and beyond,” she said.

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