Bainbridge works on nature trail and bridge over boat basin canal

Published 9:25 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Last week, the City of Bainbridge began construction on a 1.5-mile nature trail that will wind along the Flint River from the Earle May Boat Basin to Cheney Griffin Park.
The crushed rock trail will connect with the already existing paved Boat Basin trail near the campground, extend along the animal park to a bridge over the canal and continue past the Chamber of Commerce.
The city is currently working on a just a portion of the trail that extends from the Chamber to the Highway 84 bridge, which is expected to be completed by mid-March, coinciding with RiverTown days, said Bainbridge community affairs director Julie Harris.
“It goes back several years, and the process goes back even further,” Harris said.
The trail is a small piece of the Downtown Development Authority’s downtown master plan and the city’s grand Riverwalk project. Original plans call for connecting the Flint River and Boat Basin to Downtown Bainbridge, said DDA executive director Amanda Glover.
“The plans are being implemented over the years based on funds,” Glover said.
The project is funded by a 2011 Georgia Department of Natural Resources grant to be used exclusively for the nature trail. The more than $130,000 grant is to fund the bridge, lighting and drainage structures, Harris said.
Harris said that the city hopes to purchase an already constructed bridge from another city, but that negotiations are still underway.
The city will utilize its own workers and prison crews to complete the project and is still working to finalize several aspects and potential obstacles such as soft ground, narrower passages and gullies.
“They’re not allowed to remove any trees,” Harris said, “so the trail will wind through them down by the river.”
The lengthy process has had a lot to do with the extensive testing and approval process, Glover said. Soil tests, artifact digs and water quality tests were among the process.
The city is also attempting to utilize materials it already has, while also tying in Bainbridge history.
“We have these granite slabs from city curbing projects,” Harris said. “They’re huge, and the idea is to utilize them for benches along the trail, tying in a little history.”

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