Oak Ridge Lodging is proud to be a part of this magnificent trail system. The article below mentions the 12 miles of trails on the west end of Oak Ridge. These 12 miles of trails is located directly across the street of our front door!!! Be sure to read the article below, for more details on this great trail system you can visit http://www.oakridgetn.gov/content/VISITORS/Greenways Oak Ridge Trails System
Oak Ridge, TN Greenways: History and Future
By Ben Pounds/The Oak Ridger Posted Jan 17, 2018 at 1:31 PM
Oak Ridge now has 89 miles of greenways on which people can walk and ride bikes, but they weren’t always a part of the city.
Dan Robbins, chairman of Greenways Oak Ridge, spoke to City Council in December about the 25th anniversary of his organization and how it, and the greenways themselves, got started.
“A system of trails and bike paths linking the community of Oak Ridge where citizens can enjoy nature’s beauty while preserving the environment and promoting health,” Robbins said, describing a 1992 citizen committee’s initial vision for the greenways.
He defined greenways as “linear parks or open spaces established along natural corridors,” which allow traffic flow for pedestrians and bicycles. However, he said that definition includes many kinds of paths in Oak Ridge, including simple cleared dirt walking trail, such as the Cedar Hill Greenway; Department of Energy patrol roads opened to the public, such as the North Boundary Loop Trails; and formed hard-surface trails, such as the Melton Lake Greenway.
Currently, the system includes nine miles of paved trails, 32 miles of gravel DOE patrol roads, 13 miles of dirt hiking trails and 35 miles of biking trails, including Haw Ridge Park.
Robbins said Council first authorized a citizens’ group to establish the need, feasibility and funding sources for greenways in 1992. They produced a report in 1993.
Robbins mentioned that report’s statement of greenways’ benefits for the community, which he said were still true. These include increased property values, attracting residents, allowing for motorless commuting, linking community facilities, providing recreational physical activity and providing an outdoor classroom. He said The Oak Ridger endorsed the concept in its Sept. 20 1993 edition and then City Council unanimously approved the concept the same day. The citizen committee, at Council’s request, became the group Greenways Oak Ridge.
Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the state of Tennessee, Cedar Hill Greenway, Oak Ridge’s first greenway, opened in 1994.
The Oak Ridger, as shown in a PowerPoint slide of Robbins’s presentation ran a story on its opening. The story quoted Greenways task force member Bill Matheny calling it a “Cadillac of greenways.”
Robbins said that greenway’s opening encouraged neighborhood groups to contact Greenways Oak Ridge for information on creating greenways in their neighborhoods. In May 1995, Elm Grove Greenway opened, and Robbins said it started due to enthusiasm by that neighborhood.
“We don’t have much money. Our capital is people’s enthusiasm and wanting to work with creating a greenway,” Robbins said.
He then gave details on the Melton Lake Greenway. The Oak Ridger mentioned a state grant for it in 1996, but Robbins said it was not complete until 2012.
Robbins spoke particularly well of that greeenway’s Phase IV from Edgemoor Bridge to Haw Ridge Park with its deer, squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, otters and 95 bird species. Robbins works as a trail steward for the section, walking it up to five times per week. The route connects to the Haw Ridge Park trails, which Robbins said attract many users.
He then mentioned partnerships with the DOE in opening some of its gravel roads to the public. DOE still owns them, but the city covers liability insurance.
On the west end, Robbins mentioned 12 miles of shaded trails that are part of the Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement.
Robbins mentioned the responsibilities of the 10 trail stewards include picking up trash, but also more unusual ones such as handing out doggie bags to dog walkers. The trail stewards — he’s one — contribute 30 to 40 volunteer hours per month.
Robbins responded to various criticisms, including property owners who said greenways might lead to vandalism near their property.
“As it turns out, people who like to do vandalism don’t like to walk,” Robbins said.
Plans for future
Among the future projects is the Rails to Trails project, which involves converting CSX rails into trails. Robbins said it will connect Elza Gate to an area near the entrance to Y-12 National Nuclear Securty Complex. Robbins said the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) had approved $1.2 million of the cost while the city had committed $306,000. However, Robbins said the project will probably cost more than the sum of those two amounts.
At a separate meeting in December, city Recreation and Parks Director Jon Hetrick told the Municipal Planning Commission he hoped to have a contract ready to present to Council for that project in February. Hetrick said the right- of-way had not yet been transferred due to a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation grant requiring an environmental study and design work before the transfer.
“CSX has made it very clear that they very much want to sell us that property,” Hetrick said.
East Fork Poplar Creek Greenway was another project Robbins mentioned. He said it will go along the creek from the intersection of Illinois Avenue and Oak Ridge Turnpike to the West End Fire station.
Robbins also mentioned a long-term project. “In the longer term — in our dreams — it would be nice to go from Elza Gate to
Clinton along the river,” he said.
Greenway implementation marks the largest planned expense in the parks section of the Capital Improvements Project draft, a document which sets aside money for long-term projects from 2019 through 2024. It includes $1.43 million in 2019 and $1.25 million in 2020, but no spending any of the other years. Only 20 percent of that funding comes from the capital projects fund with 80 percent coming from federal, state and other funding sources.
Call Ben Pounds at (865) 220-5502 and follow him on Twitter.