Oak Ridge plans to turn abandoned railroad tracks into trails

More than 4 miles of rail road are involved in the project.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -The CSX railroad line in Oak Ridge hasn’t been in operation for 15 years. Instead of having 4.6 miles of abandoned tracks in the city, Jon Hetrick with Oak Ridge Parks and Recreation is trying to make that area something for the community to enjoy.

The idea is to buy the land from the railroad company, and turn the abandoned tracks into a trail for people to walk, bike, and run throughout town.

“Students can reach Jefferson Middle School and Woodland middle school from this trail,” Hetrick said. “There are lots of businesses accessible lots of homes so people can bike to work. Walk in the evening whatever the case may be.”

This project would cost more than $4 million according to Hetrick, who said 80 percent of the funding would come from grant money. The other 20 percent is still unknown, as the project must first be approved by the Oak Ridge City Council.

One resident is showing concerns with a project that costs that much.

“Where is this money coming from what kind of tax raises are we going to see,” the resident wondered.

Hetrick attributes the cost to buying the land from the railroad company, paying an increased price for construction, and adding amenities.

“We really find that our recreation assets are what’s driving a recent increase in population we’re seeing, and we hope this will help continue that trend,” said Hetrick.

If the project is approved it’s expected to be complete in four to five years.

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