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Alpharetta gives nod to revised Greenway link to Forsyth County

Revised trail plan calls for sidewalk along Union Hill

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Big Creek Greenway Union Hill trailhead

Cyclists navigate a turn near the Union Hill trailhead of the Big Creek Greenway. The city dedicated the extension, which took more than five years to complete, on June 29.

NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — With its final leg of the Big Creek Greenway completed up to Union Hill Park, Alpharetta is exploring how to connect the popular trail with its neighbors to the north in Forsyth County.

The docking procedure is an unexpected complication in a process that has gone on for more than five years.

Big Creek Greenway is officially a big deal

Original plans called for extending the concrete path at Union Hill Park north under a proposed bridge on McGinnis Ferry Road, which is part of a widening project between the city and Forsyth County.

But Forsyth County is not planning to run its Greenway trail to the bridge, so Alpharetta is forced to backtrack.

At a July 19 workshop, Alpharetta Public Works Director Pete Sewczwicz said the plan now calls for adding a 10-foot sidewalk on the west side of Union Hill Road which would then tie into a 10-foot sidewalk along the yet-to-be widened McGinnis Ferry Road.

Forsyth County has said it won’t bid the road project until probably early next year, and it won’t begin to link the Greenway until that project is completed.

Meanwhile, representatives from Alpharetta Public Works and the Parks and Recreation departments have developed a working solution, a 12-foot-wide trail that crosses over Union Hill Road and through the cul de sac at Little Pine Trail and around the existing skateboard rink at the park.

The cost for the newly devised path would be $275,000, and Sewczwicz said the department has the funds available in the existing contract allocation. All of the money, including project oversight, would come from the 2016 parks bond passed by voters.

“We know that funds are tight throughout the whole capital project program, so we want to get approval from you,” Sewczwicz told the council.

Councilman Jason Binder said he was uncomfortable spending that kind of money on a project if it couldn’t be incorporated into the existing master plan for Union Hill Park.

Sewczwicz assured the council that he had consulted with Parks and Recreation Director Morgan Rodgers, and they agreed the master plan could accommodate the new path.

City officials cut the ribbon on the $11 million Greenway extension last month, a 12-foot-wide concrete path that runs from Marconi Drive to Union Hill Park.

The linkup with Forsyth County is one complication the city hadn’t anticipated.

“This thing’s never going to end,” Mayor Jim Gilvin said, half-joking. “We’re just going to keep extending it. We’ll connect it to the Alpha Loop next.”

Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor said his department stands ready to proceed south from the county’s portion of the Greenway at its current terminus at Halcyon, but that work won’t start until the McGinnis Ferry Road widening occurs. The $60 million widening project is in its beginning stages and work isn’t expected to begin until winter.

Earlier this year, Forsyth County opened two segments of its Greenway a combined distance of 5 miles as far north as the Sawnee Mountain Preserve.

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