A year in the making, mapping experts with the MillionMile Greenway technical team provided the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission with a Greenway Analyst report. Using advanced mapping technologies, recommendations on the best places to build new trails and connect existing greenways and natural areas were offered for the 12-county area in North Georgia.
Awarded the first MMG Community Technology Grant in 2008, the MMG technical team developed a siting model specific to the regional commission’s needs and terrain. John Devine, senior planner with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, provided crucial guidance. For example, the NGRC is coordinating future rails-to-trails projects to maximize inactive railroads. Those areas received more points than places with roads and active railways. Streams, existing greenspace and trails also received more points than developed areas.
Commissioned by the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Regional Greenway Study is an important milestone for developing bicycle and walking trails — including rails-to-trails, safe routes to school and a greenway plan for Athens-Clarke County.
One meaningful outcome is the Firefly Trail – a 39-mile future trail that uses abandoned railroad tracks to connect eight communities in North Georgia. As they build community support and financial resources to begin construction, the new nonprofit is off to an excellent start with a professionally designed website, popular events to encourage community buy-in and a solid plan to keep people informed and engaged.