THE YELLOW RIVER TRAIL AND THE 2017 SPLOST
On March 21, 2017, Newton County residents voted to approve the 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), a 1% sales tax. Included on the list of projects to be funded is the Yellow River Trail, a 3.8-mile, multi-use trail that will run along the Yellow River from the Yellow River Park in Porterdale past the Newton County Career Academy and Porter Hall to Turkey Creek at Turner Lake Complex in Covington.
Given the designated funding level, Newton Trails is recommending the construction of the two bridges needed to cross the Yellow River along with the development of a soft-surface (primitive) trail to complete the Porterdale to Covington connection. Because SPLOST projects are prioritized, it is possible that not every project on the SPLOST list will be completed. Therefore, it is essential that Newton County trail supporters continue to advocate for the Yellow River Trail. We encourage you to contact your county commissioner with questions about the trail and indicate your support for the trail's speedy construction.
Because revenue is based on future retail sales within Newton County, there is no guaranteed collection amount. However, it is anticipated that the 2017 SPLOST will raise an estimated $64,800,000 for county and municipal projects.
HOW MUCH MONEY IS DESIGNATED FOR TRAIL CONSTRUCTION?
The SPLOST list includes $1,337,652 specifically allotted for construction of the Yellow River Trail.
WHAT'S THE ESTIMATED COST TO BUILD THE TRAIL?
"I am a life-long Newton County resident who wants what is best for my community. In my work I do a great deal of traveling. Truly, I can tell you the most livable communities, the communities that attract the kind of commerce that promote further livability, have trails that afford exercise and positive family interaction. And what a beautiful and usable trail Turkey Creek would be!"
OTHER SPLOST PROJECTS
In addition to the Yellow River Trail, projects include improvements to the Emergency 911 center, improvements and expansion of the county's senior center, a youth outreach center for the westside, improvements for parks throughout the county, improvements to the animal shelter and library system, and much-needed equipment and vehicles for the sheriff's office, fire services, and county staff. LEARN MORE
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The estimated cost to build the Yellow River Trail in its entirety is $4 million. The funds designated in the 2017 SPLOST are key to starting the trail. The city of Porterdale, where the trail will begin, is also working to raise funds for construction of the Yellow River Trail and may choose to use a portion of their apportioned SPLOST transportation funds for trail development as can the city of Covington.
"Yes, yes, yes! Go Newton Trails! So many of us travel out of county...even out of state to enjoy Trails and all the amenities that come with them. There are PROVEN economic development dollars tied to Trails. This would be an amazing asset to our County!"
"Trails attract people and people bring economic value to a community. The Covington Century brings 100s of people here every year. Many people go to Conyers to ride the Arabia Mountain Trail. Why not here?"
"A complete network of trails might be the single most important element for the future of Newton County with regards to attracting high quality industry and higher income residents. Rockdale County has done an exceptional job with their trail system. We should be doing at least as good if not better than them."
Trails, like roads, buildings, and equipment purchases, have associated maintenance and operation costs. A 2005 Rails-to-Trails Conservancy survey revealed that the average trail has annual M&O costs of just under $1,500 per mile, regardless of surface type. At 3.8 miles, the estimated annual cost to maintain the trail would be approximately $5,700. By law, SPLOST funds cannot be used to cover M&O costs.
WHAT ABOUT MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION COSTS?
"I feel this is VERY important to our community. We have several things to "draw" tourists/tourism here but absolutely nothing for them to do. I believe the citizens would greatly benefit from this, giving them a great way to get out and explore, get into shape, lower stress (studies have proven being outside does this!) and meet people in our community they otherwise may not get to know. Porterdale has a lot of great things going for it. It's past time for the City of Covington and the County to catch up."