Mayor meets with state officials on Tweetsie Trail expansion project

Published 3:24 pm Thursday, December 16, 2021

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NASHVILLE — On Wednesday, Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby and Carter County Parks & Recreation Board members met with state officials to discuss the proposed project to expand the Tweetsie Trail in Carter County.

Mayor Woodby, Parks & Rec Board Chairman Ken Gough, and Board member Wes Bradley worked with State Sen. Rusty Crowe to get a meeting with state tourism leaders. On Wednesday, the group presented their plan to Tennessee Assistant Commissioner of Rural Tourism & Outreach Melanie Beauchamp and Director of Legislation Trevin Ayers of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

“It was a very positive meeting,” Mayor Woodby said. “They were very enthusiastic and supportive about the project.”

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Earlier this year, Carter County received a donation of approximately 27 acres of property which follows the historic Tweetsie Railroad line from the Valley Forge community into Hampton and includes a river crossing as well as a railroad tunnel. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop the trail and eventually connect it up with the existing Tweetsie Trail at its end in Elizabethton and also to create a connection with the Hampton Watershed Bike Trails. Once the project is complete and linked up with the existing Tweetsie Trail, cyclists and pedestrians would be able to travel from Johnson City all the way to Hampton on the trail.

The Carter County Parks & Recreation Board is working to develop the property into a trail, which is to be named Tunnel Trail Park. One of the major tasks in developing the project will be providing a safe river crossing. One of the hopes of the project is to reconstruct the old railroad bridge that crossed the river.

During the meeting with state officials, Mayor Woodby, Mr. Gough and Mr. Bradley shared the county’s vision for the trail as well as the benefits the trail could provide the community and the region as a whole.

“The further development of cycling amenities is an extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on the natural assets available in our community,” Mayor Woodby said. “The expansions of The Tweetsie Trail and the Hampton Watershed Trails will increase outdoor recreation opportunities for our residents, enhancing overall health and wellness and providing an improved quality of life.”

The trail expansion also presents an opportunity for economic development for the region, according to Mayor Woodby.

“Carter County has identified outdoor recreation and tourism as significant economic drivers for future growth,” Mayor Woodby said. “These trails will serve as a draw to bring visitors to our community to experience the beautiful natural resources we have to offer. Tourism generated by these trails will have a regional impact as visitors spend time in the area at local restaurants, hotels, and businesses.”

One of the purposes of the meeting with state officials was to begin pursuing possible state funding sources to see the project to completion.

“Our goal is to obtain funding for the project from state tourism and recreation funds and then match that with partnership investments in the community,” Woodby said.