COVINGTON — At a its July 6 council meeting, the Covington City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1 million towards paving the remaining portion of the Cricket Frog Trail within city limits.
Newton Trails holds a long-term lease on approximately 15 miles of the former Norfolk Southern Railroad right of way, including the portion which runs through the city of Covington. Newton Trails and Covington have a formal agreement that allows the city to develop, build, and maintain a multi-use trail on the old rail bed.
“I identified the Cricket Frog Trail as a key component for community development the first time I visited Covington, and I actually spoke of its importance when I interviewed with the mayor and council for the city manager position,” said City Manager Scott Andrews. “The trail acts not only as a source of exercise and transportation for some, but it is an economic driver for the city as well as the county. It is an extremely important piece of the puzzle we are assembling.”
Currently approximately 6.5 miles of mostly primitive trail are open for public use. While the primitive sections are best suited to hiking and mountain biking, the concrete trail is accessible for all non-motorized traffic and wheelchairs.
About a half-mile of the trail inside city limits has already been paved, including the portion between Elm and Pace streets. The new portions to be paved total about 3.4 miles.
Paving will start at Emory Street, across from City Hall and proceed west to Spillers Drive near Washington Street, about 1.7 miles. Once that portion is complete, the trail from Conyers Street to Eagle Drive will be paved, about 1.4 miles. To conclude the project, the city will complete the connection over the railroad trestle running from Emory Street to Pace Street, which has roughly 1,500 feet left to finish.
Covington will pour concrete 5 inches thick and 12 feet wide per Newton Trails’ standard specifications.
Covington has entered into an executive services contract with the Atlanta-based PATH Foundation to help facilitate the construction, design and engineering of the trail. The PATH Foundation will also complete the structural engineering for the railroad trestle located behind Covington City Hall. Newton Trails has funds from two grants as well as donors to contribute toward renovation and paving the trestle.
The city is currently soliciting bids to begin clearing brush on the portion of the trail set to be paved. Weather dependent, the trail is scheduled to be complete in 2020, with funding coming from the 2011 TSPLOST. The City’s concrete contractor, Peachtree Construction, will pour the concrete.
“Newton Trails is thrilled about this development,” said Greg Richardson, Newton Trails’ board chair. “Our organization has been working toward this end for many years. We are so appreciative of the vision and action of the city council, Mayor Steve Horton, and City Manager Scott Andrews.”