Benefits of the Greenway

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CONSERVATION
This Coastal Georgia Greenway project promotes a more environmentally sustainable transportation system because it allows more coastal residents to safely bike or walk, rather than drive automobiles, and reduces our dependence on oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Trails with a small footprint vs. highway construction, reduce negative natural, social or economic transportation impacts, i.e.. construction of boardwalks or pedestrian/bicycle bridges, rather than highways that require substantial fill, especially in environmentally sensitive coastal Georgia wetlands and marsh habitats.

This alternative transportation route is a more cost effective approach; especially for local trips within one to five miles of residential neighborhoods.

QUALITY OF LIFE:

Highlights of the Coastal Georgia Greenway include its incredible linkage of existing natural, cultural, educational and historical sites. It links six counties, nine cities and 300-miles of existing and proposed trails; 115,800 acres of wildlife areas and parks to nineteen existing sites designated as new trailheads; six new water access points for launch of canoes and kayaks; twelve historic districts; three existing ferries; eight museums; ten schools and the Savannah AmTrak Station. The project allows residents and tourists a closer experience of these unique habitats and offers educational opportunities through interpretive signage and displays.
Sustainability
This Coastal Georgia Greenway alternative transportation project plays a significant role in improving the environment of coastal Georgia; promotes energy efficiency; and reduces dependence on oil and reducing CO2 emissions. Transportation is the largest single source of air pollution in the United States. It causes nearly two-thirds of the carbon monoxide, a third of the nitrogen oxides, and a quarter of the hydrocarbons in our atmosphere. Bicycling, walking and other alternative commuting options prevent the emissions of unnecessary greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. An average automobile engine emits 19.4 pounds of CO2 emissions per gallon of fuel burned. Air pollution contributes to lung disease; including respiratory tract infections, asthma, and lung cancer. Lung disease claims close to 335,000 lives in America every year and is the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Health
According a to a 2009 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, Georgia has the 14th highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 27.9 percent and the third highest of overweight youths (ages 10-17) at 37.3 percent. “Healthy” places are valued by and accessible to everyone in a community. They are the “front porches” of public institutions: city halls, libraries and schools and must be situated so that people can conveniently reach them on foot, bicycle or by transit. The Coastal Georgia Greenway facilities provide new trail access to residents and tourists that improves the quality of living and working environments within coastal Georgia and with a safe alternative transportation route linking where people live to where they work allowing them to exercise 30 minutes a day, as recommended by the Surgeon General, and thus improving long-term population health. The greenway also provides pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure that meets federal safety standards.
Livability
The project (1) enhances user mobility, (2) improves transportation choices, (3) improves accessibility, and (4) is a recognized component of a planning process coordinating transportation infrastructure in a way that involves community participation.

The Project for Public Spaces has identified two critical factors for improved connectivity: community design of public places that are accessible in a multitude of ways; and design that involves the community from the outset in planning.
According to the Department of Transportation, 25 percent of all trips are less than a mile, but 75 percent of those trips are made by car. That 75 percent could be reduced if the design of neighborhoods facilitated other forms of transportation. Creating connections means constructing sidewalks, transit facilities, recreation facilities and greenways closer to people’s homes; in this way, people can more easily incorporate exercise into their daily routines, and children can safely walk or bike to school.
The Coastal Georgia Greenway consists of dramatic rivers and marsh views that draw Hollywood directors here for filming the historic neighborhoods and canopy roads. Today, there is no alternative transportation route linking South Carolina to Florida through Georgia’s six coastal counties. Most schools, “down towns,” parks and historic sites cannot be easily accessed by walking or bicycling; and most economically distressed areas are separated from major employment centers without a safe, non-motorized means of access.

Innovation
1. Utilizes old bridge approaches for the old US 17 roadbed for the new bicycle/pedestrian bridges; as will the old road alignment, when possible. This old alignment crosses streams, marshes and wetlands that today could not be built due to environmental impacts and expensive bridges and boardwalks would be needed.

2. Utilizes existing right of way for off-road trail as well as integrating new paved bike lanes and bridges;
3. Utilizes USDOT FHA Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System for traffic calming, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, re-striping and signalization for existing roads and bridges;
4. Develops safe at-grade and separated grade intersections to meet or exceed applicable complete streets criteria;
5. Creates community gateways as part of transportation facility re-habilitation;
6. Creates unified safety, informational and interpretive signage along the Coastal Georgia Greenway;
7. Meets ADA requirements for pedestrian and bicyclist safety;
8. Re-habilitates existing rights-of-way for heritage and eco-tourism: Altamaha Scenic Byway; Gullah-Geechee National Heritage Corridor; and GDOT Bike Routes;
9. Builds and continues communication among a Project Coalition of federal, state, local public and private- sector support organizations;
10. Meets/exceeds Safe Routes to School and other safety standards.
11. Creates a new destination activity (distance bicycling and hiking) for existing educational, cultural, environmental and historical sites by linking them with trail facilities;
12. Integrates transportation modes: Amtrak, ferries, bus systems, visitor center transportation hubs, recreational rail (Chatham), and new trailheads;
13. Links employees to employment centers;
14. Utilizes innovation in project materials and construction methods for environmental and historic protection, interpretation of environmental, historic and cultural assets;
15. Partners with county health departments and Pedestrian/Bicycle safety PACE education;
16. With partners, develops and implements a marketing plan as the trails are constructed, to encourage immediate use; and
17. Utilizes existing parks, town halls, museums, etc. as trailheads where people can access the trail, have parking, restrooms, visitor information and other bicycle facilities.

 

ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION:

The multi-purpose trail is walking and cycling infrastructure that will enhance mobility through better inter-modal connections and, in particular, enhance connections between where people live and where they work.
Safety
Development of the Coastal Georgia Greenway greatly improves the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in the region. This project improves existing transportation infrastructure and creates new path facilities, both of which will help to educate users on safe behavior, and will better integrate bicycle, pedestrian and automobile uses. The CGG multi-use trail system integrates a number of researched solutions that will reduce the severity and frequency of bicycle/pedestrian/automobile accidents: improved striping, increased bike lane width and the use of rumble strips to separate car and bike lanes.

70% of all serious bicycle accidents occur on roads without bike lanes/facilities as opposed to 4% on roads with bike lanes/facilities (Moritz 1998). The installation of such facilities would dramatically cut the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents along the greenway route. In addition, many roadways along the proposed path do not currently meet Department of Transportation safety requirements regarding lane width and stripping. The Coastal Georgia Greenway will bring existing facilities up to compliance by expanding bike lane size to 6.5’ including installation of 18” rumble strips. Also, the CGG path will integrate of a number of traffic calming strategies within neighborhoods along the route helping to both improve the flow of automobile traffic and improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. Bicycle lanes are often used in combination with a reduction in road width and other strategies to reduce the speed and increase efficiency of traffic flow and improve access for bicycles and pedestrians. The CGG path will also set the foundation for future improvements that will make the region safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. It will aid regional efforts to educate bicyclists and motorists about safe driving/biking behavior and facilitate the development of infrastructure that will improve safety. The City of Savannah received honorable mention in 2008 as a Bicycle Friendly Community from the Alliance for Biking and Walking. They wish to use the CGG path to strengthen their case for full Bicycle Friendly Community status in the near future. This project will help the region’s effort to receive recognition as bicycle friendly communities. As a critical mass of bicycle facilities develop, the region’s population will become more aware of the need to integrate alternative modes into our existing transportation system. This project provides the critical spine from which additional bike/pedestrian paths are planned.

Connectivity
The 155-mile through corridor route will link South Carolina to Florida through Georgia’s six coastal counties. As part of the East Coast Greenway, a national trail spanning nearly 3,000 miles and linking Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida, and linking them to all the major cities along the eastern seaboard, the Coastal Georgia Greenway alternative transportation route is ranked as the top priority bicycle facility to be developed in the region. It connects nine cities to rural areas and the adjoining states: South Carolina and Florida. In addition it links the Cumberland Sound Ferry serving St. Marys, Georgia and Fernandina Beach, Florida; the Cumberland Island National Seashore Ferry serving St. Marys and Cumberland Island; Kings Bay Submarine Support Base; the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; Fort Stewart; Georgia Safe Routes to School programs (Savannah, Richmond Hill and Brunswick); Sapelo Island Ferry serving McIntosh County and Sapelo Island; the Amtrak-Savannah Station; Chatham Area Transit Buses with bikes on-board; and Belles Ferry serving Savannah and Hutchinson Island at the Georgia International Maritime & Trade Center.

This alternative transportation project will improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems and minimize life-cycle costs in coastal Georgia. It is consistent with, relevant state, local and regional efforts to maintain transportation facilities and systems in a state of good repair. The 155-mile route has been adopted by the six counties and nine cities that it connects. An important aim of the project is to rehabilitate and upgrade coastal Georgia surface transportation projects to include safe, alternative means of transportation as shared use paths and paved shoulders with rumble strips within the existing road rights-of-way, and linking to off-road shared use paths. The Coastal Georgia Greenway is an alternative transportation project: 56 % is within existing state and national highways; 20 % on local roads and 24 % off-road, and utilizing 11 existing bridges with paved shoulders that can accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, but bridge approaches currently do not have bicycle facilities (that will be provided as part of this project). The Coastal Georgia Greenway completes or links the following State Bicycle Routes: 10-Southern Crossing; 35-March to the Sea; 40-Trans-Georgia; 85-Savannah River Run and 95-Coastal Route.

The Coastal Georgia Greenway project will also increase the efficiency of the coastal transportation system through integration and better use of highway rights of way and bridges to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. Existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities are not contiguous; thereby forcing pedestrians and bicyclists into an unsafe route on road or road shoulders for a portion of their trip. This Coastal Georgia Greenway project will provide a safe continuous alternative transportation facility from South Carolina to Florida.

 

TOURISM/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:

The Coastal Georgia Greenway links the regions major recreational, historical and cultural tourism sites.
Tourism
The Coastal Georgia Greenway accommodates new destination activities: distance cycling and hiking, that will enhance the local tourism economies in the six coastal counties including:

  • Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor;
  • Cumberland Island National Seashore Visitor Center;
  • Crooked River State Park – Sugar Mill Historic Site;
  • Altamaha Scenic Byway;
  • Coastal Birding Route;
  • St. Simons and Jekyll Islands
  • Sapelo Island, Altamaha Wildlife Management Area and Ansley Hodges M.A.R.S.H. Project;
  • Fort King George State Historic Site;
  • Blue N Hall McIntosh County Park;
  • Hofwyl-Broadfield State Historic Site;
  • J.F. Gregory City (Richmond Hill) Park and historic rice dikes;
  • Chatham County Wetland Mitigation site and recreation area;
  • Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens;
  • Savannah Ogeechee Canal Museum;
  • L. Scott Stell and Tom Triplett Community Parks;
  • Springfield Canal Greenway, Battlefield Park, Roundhouse Complex;
  • Savannah Visitor Center;
  • The Coastal Center
Economic Competitiveness
A primary focus of the Coastal Georgia Greenway project is on Economic Competitiveness because the project provides a new means of alternative transportation, links economically distressed and other residential areas to the region’s central business districts and multiple large employers: Georgia Port Authority in Savannah and Brunswick; the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and others. The project allows people to safely bike or walk to work; thereby non-drives save on vehicle expenses and fuel. Secondly, the project attracts a new segment of tourists to the region to enjoy distance cycling, a new destination activity, and thereby improves the economic impact of Georgia’s second largest industry: tourism. The project measurably contributes over the long term to growth in the region’s tourism employment, especially in the region’s economically distressed areas. Georgia has one of the largest spans of severe poverty in the United States. The extreme isolation faced by some impoverished Georgians magnifies this problem. Major cities (25,000 or more people) with poverty rates at critical levels include Savannah, with a poverty rate at 21.8%. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Study on Persistent Poverty in the South, 2003, indicates that Liberty, McIntosh and Glynn are counties with persistent poverty.

According to the American Automobile Association, in 2008 a car cost $8,121per year to operate; and according to the League of American Bicyclists, in 2008 a bicycle cost $120 per year to operate. For the disadvantaged communities within 5 miles of the Coastal Georgia Greenway, this new alternative transportation route can make the difference in their take home pay and what it will afford!

Providing a safe, alternative transportation route will enhance modal connectivity between the shared use path/bike lanes; existing bus routes; existing ferries and Amtrak; thus reducing congestion on other major north-south highway such as I-95 and US 17.

 

MILESTONES
  • Highlights of 2011, Coastal Georgia Greenway, Inc. activities include progress on four trails:
    • Truman Trail

      Truman Linear Park Trail

      Lake Mayer Trail upgrade & Truman Linear Park Trail in Chatham County: P&E is complete for the 1.4-mile Lake Mayer Trail, a three-to-six-month plan review starts this month, after which the project goes to bid; The 5-mile Truman Linear Park Trail (Phase II) has received concept approval and P&E is underway. These trails link to the existing Truman Linear Park Trail (phase I) and extend north to Lake Mayer and the existing Lake Mayer Trail.

    • Triplett/Savannah-Ogeechee Trail
      Savannah Ogeechee

      Savannah Ogeechee Trail

      in Chatham County:  P&E is underway for a paved trail from the southwest end of the Triplett Park Lake Trail, through the park utilizing boardwalks to cross jurisdictional wetlands, to the Savannah – Ogeechee Canal, bridging the canal and other drainage ditches, and along the Canal from Lock 3 to Dean Forest Road, approximately 2.58 miles. The county is providing $102,250 local match for the $409,000 GDOT project.

    • Highlander Trail
      Highlander Trail

      Highlander Trail

      in McIntosh County:  The 2.6-mile Highlander Trail will go to bid for construction before July 2012.  From the exist trail in Darien in McIntosh County, North along SR 99 to Hart’s Avenue, includes “The Ridge” Historic District.  Part of the 33-mile Island Hopper Trail that will link Sapleo, St. Simons and Jekyll Islands in McIntosh and Glynn counties.  Phase II of the Highlander Trail will extend north to the Sapelo Ferry and Visitor Center.

    • Jekyll Island Causeway Trail
      Jekyll Island Causeway

      Jekyll Island Causeway

      in Glynn County:  The Jekyll Island Authority is providing a $25,000 local match and applying for a $100,000 Recreational Trails Assistance Grant.  They have funded  $50,000 for the $200,000 TE grant (awarded) trail project along the Jekyll Causeway.  Both projects, (if the RTA project is funded), will extend from existing trails on the island to the GDOT Visitor Center on the Causeway:  1.6 miles. These trails, are phase one of the Jekyll Causeway Trail that will link the more than 20-miles of island trails to the Coastal Georgia Greenway on US 17 south of Brunswick, and are part of the 35-mile Island Hopper Trail linking Sapelo, St. Simons and Jekyll Islands.

 In addition the organization elected 6 new board members:

    • David Aspinwall, representing Bryan County
    • Beverly Carson, At-Large, from Richmond Hill
    • Geoffrey Carson, representing Bryan County
    • Jim Morrison, representing McIntosh County
    • Russ Marane, At-Large, from St. Simons Island
    • Jim Jacobs, representing Glynn County

An unsuccessful attempt was made to include 100% funding ($60 million) for construction of the 155-mile Greenway from South Carolina to Florida through Georgia’s six coastal counties (30% is complete), in the Transportation Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) referendum that will go before voters in 2012.  The project was not included on the preferred project list because GDOT identified it as a recreational project.  If T-SPLOST is passed by the voters in 2012, local communities may choose to build a trail section with their local T-SPLOST funds (25% of the funds raised in the coastal district).  The CGG will stay involved in this issue in 2012!

  • • 2009- Coastal Georgia Greenway, Inc is incorporated;
  •  2010 saw organizational development, however in February, the Coastal Georgia Greenway, Inc. and the Coastal Regional Commission learned that their $19.6 million TIGER grant was not awarded: it would have completed 63-miles of trail in 4 counties. With the help of Benjie Morillo, a Savannah College of Art and Design architecture graduate, Jo Hickson, then Executive Director, completed the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation Grant producing brochures, a portable display and three-year action plan booklet. The trail concept plan from South Carolina to Richmond Hill was also completed. Currently Jo is writing grants to fund work identified in the Action Plan. As the economy in Savannah is improving at a faster rate than the rest of Georgia, she is hopeful that funding efforts will bear fruit and work on organizational capacity building and new trail development will proceed.
  • 2008- the Coastal Comprehensive Plan is adopted and turned over the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center for implementation; it recommends creation of the Coastal Regional Commission beginning July 1, 2009; and it recommends implementation of the Coastal Georgia Greenway as a measure of a community’s planning standards of excellence; AND The Coastal Georgia Greenway becomes a Pilot Project and is awarded funding from the MillionMile Greenway, Inc.
  • 2004- Coastal Georgia Greenway Trail, Bridge Assessment Report, identifies bridge issues along the 155-mile route and develops a budget for providing pedestrian and bicycle access: $10,312,230;
  • 2003- Coastal Georgia Greenway Market Study and Projected Economic Impact, identifies projected annual use (495,000 in 2020); and quantifiable economic benefits of over $15 million annually;
  • 2003- “the Coastal Georgia Alternative: developing heritage and eco-tourism on the coast,” master plan identifies a 155-mile through corridor route linking South Carolina to Florida through coastal Georgia;
  • 1997- “Gateway to Coastal Georgia, connecting the coast,” Master Plan identifies a 350-mile multi-use trail system; the plan was adopted by the six coastal counties

Assuming full construction of the 155-mile Coastal Georgia Greenway alternative transportation route by 2020, the Greenway...

• Attracts approximately 220,000 user-days in 2015 and 495,000 user-days in 2020.

  • Generates average expenditures per user per day of $25.82
  • Increases adjacent property values by 5-10%

Assuming that 65% of trail users are non-local residents, the CGG annually...

• Adds $7 million to business revenue in 2015, rising to $14.7 million in 2020.

  • Supports 114 jobs in 2015, rising to 239 jobs in 2020.
  • Generates $2.4 million in labor income in 2015, rising to $4.95 million in 2020.
  • Generates $450,000 in state and local tax revenue in 2015, rising to $1 million in 2020.
  •  This impact increases by 2.5% per year after 2020.