Oak Ridge plans to turn abandoned railroad tracks into trails

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WVLT) – The CSX railway line at Oak Ridge has not been in service for 15 years. Instead of having 4.6 miles of abandoned trails in the city, Jon Hetrick with Oak Ridge Parks and Recreation is trying to make this area something the community can enjoy.

The idea is to buy the land from the railway company and turn the abandoned tracks into a path for people to walk, cycle and run across town.

“Students can reach Jefferson Middle School and Woodland Middle School from this trail,” Hetrick said. “There are a lot of businesses accessible to a lot of homes so people can cycle to work. Walk in the evening anyway.

The project would cost more than $ 4 million according to Hetrick, who said 80% of the funding would come from grants. The remaining 20 percent is still unknown, as the project must first be approved by Oak Ridge City Council.

A resident is worried about a project that is so expensive.

“Where is this money coming from, what kind of tax increases are we going to see,” the resident wondered.

Hetrick attributes the cost to buying the land from the railway company, paying a higher price for the construction, and adding amenities.

“We’re really seeing that our recreational assets are driving a recent increase in the population we’re seeing, and we’re hoping that will help continue that trend,” Hetrick said.

If the project is approved, it should be completed in four to five years.

Copyright 2021 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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