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Walkways through town slowly coming to fruition

Like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle, walkways in Tennessee’s oldest town are slowly falling into place.
“It’s exciting, the thought of putting them all together,” said Town Administrator Bob Browning. “We’ve had that plan for a long time.”
Several ongoing projects in Jonesborough are paving the way for a trail system that will allow area residents to get to just about anywhere in town without having to hop in their cars.
“Our intent is to have our trails connect into all the major subdivisions in Jonesborough,” Browning said.
Currently, crews are working to connect the Meadows and Mill Spring subdivisions on the west end of town to the existing trail that starts in Persimmon Ridge Park.
To do so, the town has reached an agreement with Elizabethton Federal Bank, the lien holder on the remaining Meadows subdivision property.
“They have agreed to free up the easement for the walkway and allow the lot where the playground is to go to be dedicated to the town,” Browning said.
Crews have been working to clean out and renovate a box culvert that passes underneath Highway 11-E, which will serve as the connecting point with the Persimmon Ridge trail system.
Bollards soon will be installed to prohibit access for four-wheelers and other vehicles and a light pole is expected to go up as well.
Once completed, the walkway will connect to the trail along the billfolds at Persimmon Ridge Park. It will pass under 11-E and from there, will swing to Sweetgrass Lane and run along that road.
Another branch will go along the adjacent wetlands area to Goldenrod Drive and the playground area.
Last week, Parks and Recreation Director Rachel Conger worked on a conceptual plan for that playground, which is expected to be bid out in the next couple of months, Browning said.
The walkway will also connect to the neighboring Mill Creek subdivision, Browning said.
The town is utilizing grant money to fund much of the work on the walkway. It is also using grant money to create a better trail system at the other end of Persimmon Ridge Road along Little Limestone Creek.
The Lost State of Franklin Walkway, as it is being called, is expected to run from Barkley Creek Park off the intersection of West Main Street and Persimmon Ridge Road to the courthouse on Main Street.
It will then connect with the already existing pathway to Mill Spring Park.
It is being funded through a 80/20 matching grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
In February 2012, Conger was optimistic the trail would be completed by the end of the year. That, however, has not happened.
According to Browning, town staff is still working on obtaining the necessary easements for the trail while the installation of required railroad crossing arms on Second Avenue is not yet completed.
Meanwhile, Todd Wood, the town’s contract engineer, is working on plans for yet another ongoing trail project.
Through a Safe Routes to School grant, the town wants to construct a walkway from the area of First Baptist Church at 201 E. Main St. to the Jonesborough elementary and middle schools at Forrest Drive.
“We are trying to stay on the right-of-way for the walkway,” Browning said. “But we will need construction easements.”
Staff is working to make contact with those people from whom they need such easements.
The walkway is being funded at 100 percent up to $200,000.