Study outlines possible Pelham trail system
By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer
PELHAM—The city of Pelham received a feasibility report for the proposed Trails and Greenway Project the week of July 27 through its Advanced Planning, Programming and Logical Engineering program.
The study evaluated the feasibility of a potential six and half mile trail system connecting to an in-place sidewalk at Bearden Road to the entrance of Oak Mountain State Park. The area primarily follows Bishop Creek along Oak Mountain Park Road between Amphitheater Road and John Findley Drive.
“One (of the key components) is just enhancing the quality of life and giving our residents the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Pelham,” Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said in an Aug. 3 interview. “It’s a very scenic area — very pretty — and we don’t enjoy it today.”
According to the study, the trail system would allow pedestrians and cyclists the opportunity to enjoy the environment offered by Bishop Creek and also provide non-motorized connectivity between city amenities. There are three options documented by the report: No build, use of federal funds and use of local funds. Each build option could be developed in phases.
Hayes said this is likely a five- to six-year project that will be discussed during the upcoming budget meetings.
“We are hoping to include the first phase in the FY2016 budget and we are definitely hoping to include this great project, but I can’t say if we will be able to prioritize this project over a number of other very critical needs that also must be evaluated as part of the upcoming budgeting process,” Hayes said.
Pelham City Council has scheduled multiple budget meetings in August where they will go through every item and prioritize them. Hayes said they have a tight budget this year because of so many “exciting things on the plate” for Pelham. He hopes to have the budget finalized by early September.
If the Pelham chooses to move forward and would like to pursue federal funding, the next step would be to request inclusion of a project in the Birmingham Regional Transportation Plan.
Once funds are in place for the project, an environmental document would need to be prepared and must include technical studies and public involvement outreach. When the environmental study has been completed, the design would be undertaken and construction would follow.
“What we are looking to do is really make this a central seam, a central focus, within the park,” Hayes said, also mentioning its connection with the new middle school. “That is one of the other key things about this and integrating that. Hopefully this will be a park that can be used for cross country competitions, mountain bike riding competitions and things like that, that fit in with our schools and having a new middle school there.”