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Rail Trail Authority Wants Local Support For Trail Expansion

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Rail Trail Authority Wants Local Support For Trail Expansion

The Tennessee Central Rail Trail Authority is seeking support from local municipalities for east to west trail expansion.

Cookeville City Council Member Charles Womack brought a resolution before the council Monday night. Womack said that in its desire to expand, the Rail Trail Authority thought the best way to get federal funding for the project is to show widespread support.

“The original rail trail began back in 2006,” Womack said. “It took from 2006 to 2015 to open up the first segment. And we want to do something similar opening up further trails to the east and further trails to the west.”

Womack said should the resolution pass, the next step would be to apply for multimodal funding through TDOT. He said that the federal grant for the original trail added up to some $2.5 million and that the expansion will require additional funding.

Womack said the first segment of the trail runs some 4.3 miles. He said the extension would include added more of a 9-foot-wide trail covered in asphalt that would bring the trail from the east towards Monterey and through Algood up the mountain, as well as westward toward Baxter. He said that he’s spoken with Baxter Mayor John Martin who expressed interest in the idea. Womack said Amy New of the Chamber of Commerce will present the idea to other municipalities such as Monterey.

Womack said the trail expansion will have several benefits for members of the community.

“I think it helps everyone’s health to get out and walk and bike,” Womack said. “It helps tourism, that’s what the Chamber of Commerce is interested in. If we could have a bike trail that starts in Monterey and you coast down the mountain like the Virginia Creeper over in Damascus, Virginia, that’s about a 20-mile bike road that coasts down off on old railroads. We’re adjacent to the railroad, and you can coast down to Algood, Cookeville or Baxter, I think that would bring in tourists from around the south and it would bring in tourism money.”

The Cookeville City Council will vote on the resolution at their meeting Thursday night.


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