DOT grant to help fund portion of Rockdale River Trail

CONYERS -- A Georgia Department of Transportation contract for a grant of $780,000 was approved by the Board of Commissioners Tuesday for construction of a new segment of the Rockdale River Trail.

The grant, which requires a 20 percent county match, will be used to construct a 1.2-mile section of multi-use trail from the Lorraine Trailhead to the South River at property owned by the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

Approval of the grant Tuesday signals the beginning of a process for design and construction of the trail. The county will next bid out the design work. Once contractor pricing is finalized, the county will complete the budget for the project and bring it back before the BOC for approval.

The DOT funds, awarded under the Transportation Enhancement Act, cannot be used for design or engineering costs, according to Andrew Hammer, special projects manager for the county. The county's funding for design and engineering and the DOT grant match will come from 2011 SPLOST funds earmarked for trails, Hammer said.

At last week's BOC work session, Hammer told commissioners that this segment of trail will include a double span bridge of 210 feet over the South River. The trail will connect with a 1.4-mile segment, known as Section F, that will cross the Monastery property. Section F is expected to be funded privately through the PATH Foundation and is slated for construction in 2014.

The master plan for the South River Trail shows a nearly 10-mile route that loosely follows the South River from DeKalb County to the Monastery.

"The future plan is to connect the South River Trail with the Olde Town Conyers Trail at Johnson Park," Hammer said.

Portions of the trail already completed include Section A-1, from the DeKalb County border to Alexander Lake; and Section B, from the intersection of Daniels Bridge Road and Union Church Road to the South Rockdale Community Park. The master plan calls for the entire project to be completed in 2015.

"The reason we didn't do them in geographical order is because of different property owners along the pathway," Hammer said.

In some cases, trail property was already owned by the county, he said, which simplified the project. In other cases, property and easements needed for the trail have multiple owners, which complicates acquisition of the land.

"Most of these sections have 80 percent funding from the DOT and then we have SPLOST funding and private funding making up the difference," he said.

The Rockdale River Trail master plan includes the following trail segments:

-- Section A-1: 1.1 miles from the DeKalb County border to Alexander Lake. This section is entirely inside Panola Mountain Park and was built in 2007.

-- Section A-2: 1.8 miles from Alexander Lake to the intersection of Daniels Bridge Road and Union Church Road. This section is under construction and is expected to be completed next year.

-- Section B: 2.4 miles from the intersection of Daniels Bridge Road and Union Church Road to South Rockdale Community Park. This section was completed in 2011.

-- Section D: 1.3 miles from South Rockdale Community Park to the Lorraine Trailhead. Anticipated completion of this section will be in 2015.

-- Section E: 1.2 miles from the Lorraine Trailhead to South River at Monastery property. This is expected to be completed this spring.

-- Section F: 1.4 miles from the South River to Monastery Heritage Center. This section is expected to be completed in 2014.