Call to Action: County funding for the Alcovy River Bridge and trails

ALCOVY RIVER BRIDGE. Earlier this year, Newton Trails asked Newton County to include $613,000 in its 2023 budget for renovation of the old Alcovy River railroad trestle on the Cricket Frog Trail. The project would convert the currently un-crossable trestle into a modern, safe trail bridge and link the paved sections east and west of the river. Newton Trails has bid-ready designs developed by a PATH Foundation bridge engineer. Three County Commissioners, i.e., a majority, expressed support for that request. However, Newton County's proposed 2023 budget includes no money for the bridge or for trails. If you would like the County to include funds to renovate the Alcovy River Bridge in its 2023 budget, please call, text, email, or otherwise let Chairman Marcello Banes, County Manager Jarvis Simms, and your district's Commissioner know your thoughts! You can find their contact information at: http://www.co.newton.ga.us/157/Board-of-Commissioners. There is a public hearing on the 2023 budget on June 28 at 6:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse if you would care to voice your opinion in person. 2023 SPLOST. In a separate action and at the urging of elected county officials, Newton Trails also requested that $2.2 million for trails be included in the 2023 SPLOST. Although the request was simply for "trails," so as to give the Board of Commissioners flexibility with regard to which trail it eventually supported, Newton Trails suggested that connectivity of the Yellow River Trail with the Cricket Frog Trail or the Rockdale County trail system would be a good priorities. The 2017 SPLOST included $1.3 million for the Yellow River Trail. The 2023 SPLOST Committee initially recommended zero dollars for trails, but later, when it appeared there might be more 2023 SPLOST money available to the County than originally thought, it altered its recommendation suggesting $1.0 million for trails. The final allocations, which will be presented to the voters in November, are up to the Board of Commissioners. If you would like the County to include at least $1.0 million, if not more up to Newton Trails' original request for $2.2 million, please call, text, email, or otherwise let Chairman Marcello Banes, County Manager Jarvis Simms, and your district's Commissioner know your thoughts! You can find their contact information at: http://www.co.newton.ga.us/157/Board-of-Commissioners. OTHER COUNTY FUNDING SOURCES. In yet another action and at the urging of a County staff member, Newton Trails recently requested funding for the Alcovy River Bridge from the pool of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that Newton County soon will be doling out. It is unclear how much money is in that pool. Finally, Newton County was part of a lawsuit initiated by local landowners who sued the U.S. Government for railbanking the Central of Georgia Railway right-of-way after Norfolk-Southern Railroad abandoned the line. Out of that settlement, the County received $100,000. If you would like the County to direct ARPA funds and/or its settlement money to support trails, please call, text, email, or otherwise let Chairman Marcello Banes, County Manager Jarvis Simms, and your district's Commissioner know your thoughts! You can find their contact information at: http://www.co.newton.ga.us/157/Board-of-Commissioners.

The mission of Newton Trails, Inc., is to promote, develop, and sustain a connected system of greenway trails which support vibrant, healthy, and prosperous communities and the conservation of natural habitats, plants, and wildlife.