A healthy rail-trail rivalry is developing in the Carolinas, with both the Old North State and the Palmetto State taking great strides this month to boost active transportation networks in their growing communities.
In Beaufort Country, S.C., officials broke ground on the first section of the planned 13.6-mile Spanish Moss Trail, which when complete will provide an active transportation corridor along the former Port Royal Railroad line through Beaufort County between Port Royal and Yemassee.
Also being referred to by locals as the Magnolia Line Trail, the project is being driven by the Atlanta-based PATH Foundation under the direction of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Rail-Trail Champion Ed McBrayer. With more than $3 million already raised through federal and state grants and contributions from local foundations, the people of Beaufort County are excited to see construction of a rail-trail that, in the words of the Beaufort Tribune "will not only be a recreational asset, but will also provide an alternative mode of transportation linking people to jobs, services, and schools."
"It is really something that is going to tie this community together physically, spiritually, politically, socially and, hopefully most of all, healthfully," Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling told the Tribune.
Across the border to the north, construction of phase three of the Marcia H. Cloninger Rail Trail (above) through downtown Lincolnton, N.C., began last week. Since the first mile of the rail-trail opened in 1997, it has been a popular downtown recreation and active transportation amenity. However, this new section is seen as being particularly important as it will connect the trail with two city parks and a paved walking trail.
Although short in length at 1.5 miles, the rail-trail's popularity with locals has planners anticipating its tremendous potential for growth.
"I think the ultimate goal would be to extend it as far as we can," Lincolnton City Manager Jeff Emory told the Gaston Gazette. "We'd like to extend it to the Carolina Thread Trail."