First section of walk-bike path nearly done | News | The Press and Standard

by | June 29, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: June 28, 2017 at 11:52 am

The initial section of the ACE Trail in Green Pond, a walking-biking trail, is nearing completion.

Colleton County Planning Director Philip Slayter, says that workers from Graham County Construction Co. of North Carolina are expected to be finished with the first 1.83-mile section of the trail in about a week.

“The trail represents another example where the county has undertaken an effort to implement one of the key recommendations in Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan,” says Slayter. Council members adopted the plan in May of 2015.

Since the master plan was adopted, the county has been trying to secure funding for sidewalk installation with several projects set to start.

“The trail represents a much bigger project,” Slayter said. “It will serve both as a way for people to walk or ride from one place to another in the Green Pond area. As the trail expands, eventually reaching the outskirts of Walterboro,” he added, “It will become more of a recreational amenity.”

The ACE Trail is being constructed on the abandoned rail bed of the old Atlantic Coastline Railroad, that once carried rail traffic between Hampton and Green Pond. Between Walterboro and Green Pond, the trail will run parallel to Green Pond Highway (S.C. 303).

The rail-line was abandoned in the 1980’s and then jointly purchased by Colleton County and Walterboro.

The portion of the line owned by the two governments, slated to become part of the ACE Trail, runs from Folly Creek Lane in Green Pond to near the intersection of Rivers Street and Robertson Boulevard in Walterboro.

The portion of the rail line that travels through the city limits is owned by CSX.

The abandoned rail-line has laid fallow for some time, but thoughts to turn it into a walking-biking trail have been around for years.

Those ideas took on substance when the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and Colleton Transportation Committee provided a total of $130,000 in funds to cover the first phase.

That amount was expected to cover the contract for the first section, but when the bids were opened, the price was $180,000. County officials decided to use local funds to cover the funding shortfall.

Slayter said one of the main reasons the bids were above the estimate was that the clearing and grubbing proved to be more involved than anticipated.

The county has developed a working relationship with Graham County Construction. The company has worked on several road projects for the county, including the improvements to Bama Road. “They have done good quality work and have consistently been the low bidder,” Slayter said.

In addition to clearing the rail bed of vegetation and other obstacles, the company thinned out the tree line between the trail and Green Pond Highway.

Once the rail bed surface was prepared, the workers laid down a layer of number four stone (about the side of a half-dollar) to form the eight-foot-wide trail.

Once the first section is finished and open, Slayter said, basic rules apply. It will be open from dusk to dawn and its use will be monitored by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.

At the four driveways that cross the trail, workers will install bollards that will alert the walkers and bikers of the approaching driveway, as well as keeping motorized vehicles from entering the trail, where they are not allowed.

Slayter said that the section nearing completion was the first work undertaken because it “was the least complicated and least overgrown.” It also is at the Green Pond end of the trail.

He hopes that before this year ends, the county will be able to undertake the work to turn a three-acre parcel of land near Folly Creek Lane into a parking area for the trail. It is anticipated that county work crews will be able to do much of that work.

He pointed out that the next possible stage, which would take the trail from its current end to closer to Ritter Road, has more foliage, steeper banks and a small railroad bridge that will mean more work and more costs.

Slayter said the start of work on the next stage of the trail is probably several years away. The state’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism is not expected to have new money for grants until 2019 or 2020.

Since work to begin establishing the new trail started, Friends of the ACE Trail, a non-profit support organization, has been formed. They maintain a web site, www.ACEtrail.org, to get people engaged and interested in the trail.

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