Columbia County officials recently received commission approval to apply for $750,000 in grants for the construction of a greenway around Patriots Park and a trail connecting the park to a nearby school.
The Georgia Safe Routes to School grant would be for $500,000, and the transportation-enhancement grant would be for $250,000. Both grants are administered by the state Department of Transportation.
"It's basically a trail system connecting Patriots Park to Lewiston Elementary," county Development Services Division Manager George Eastman said of the Safe Routes to School grant.
The idea is that the trail would give Lewiston Elementary pupils a motor vehicle-free route to school to walk and bike.
The transportation enhancement grant would provide the county funding to start the first construction phase of the Euchee Creek Greenway.
County commissioners ap-proved a greenway master plan in 2007, paving the way for officials to seek federal and state grants. At the time, officials estimated the overall cost of building the greenway at about $19.7 million.
Though it eventually will stretch about 18 miles from Riverside Park to Patriots Park to the Euchee Creek Trails in Grovetown, the greenway is to be built in multiple phases, with the first phase consisting of a four-mile loop around Patriots Park to include portions of the Bartram Trail neighborhood off Columbia Road.
The second phase of the project will extend the trail from Patriots Park to Chamblin Road. The final phase will connect the Euchee Creek Greenway with the Euchee Creek Trails in Grovetown.
Commissioners on Tuesday approved another grant opportunity for $100,000 from the state Department of Natural Resources. That money, Eastman said, would be used to create a trail head near Ashebrooke subdivision, off William Few Parkway.
The transportation-enhancement and DNR grants would require a 20 percent match from the county using 1 percent sales tax dollars.
This month is the deadline for submittals for the Safe Routes to School and DNR grants, and transportation enhancement grant requests are due in December. Eastman said he should learn by February or March if the county will receive the funding.
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