Proposal would create 36-mile trail loop around Birmingham

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Fairfield Mayor Eddie Penny (left), Irondale Mayor James Stewart, Homewood Mayor Patrick McClusky, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson and Freshwater Land Trust Executive Director Rusha Smith stand behind a map of the proposed 36-mile trail loop.

Andrew Yeager, WBHM

Officials with Freshwater Land Trust announced Tuesday plans for a 36-mile trail loop around the Birmingham metro area that would connect Ruffner Mountain, Railroad Park and Red Mountain Park. The Red Rock Action Plan represents the next phase of the Red Rock Trail System, a master plan of trails, bike lanes and sidewalks throughout Jefferson County.

To complete the 36-mile loop, 19 miles of new trails must be built. That work is divided up into seven corridors.

  • Corridor A: Connects Birmingham’s Smithfield neighborhood to downtown through Legion Field and the historic 4th Avenue Business District
  • Corridor B: Connects downtown Birmingham to the Kiwanis Vulcan Trail
  • Corridor C: Connects the Kiwanis Vulcan Trail and UAB to to Red Mountain Park
  • Corridor D: Connects the High Ore Line Greenway through Fairfield and Midfield to the Valley Creek Rail-to-Trail with a spur to Miles College
  • Corridor E: Connects downtown Birmingham through the Woodlawn neighborhood to Ruffner Mountain
  • Corridor F: Connects Ruffner Mountain to Jemison Park
  • Corridor G: Connects Red Mountain Park to the Shades Creek and Jemison Greenways

The plan could take up to 15 years to build with a cost of $40 million dollars. Officials said about a third is already funded. A combination of local and federal monies will support the expansion. 

“The economic impact for our city will be great,” Fairfield Mayor Eddie Penny said. “We’re looking to utilize this trail to help us improve the quality of life in the city of Fairfield.”

Penny specifically noted the trail will be a benefit to students at Miles College and older residents looking for a place to exercise. 

“A lot of people are getting out and exercising, a diverse group of people from all over our community, and that’s really been great to see,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said. “But it’s also bringing people together. It’s connecting us more.”

Wilson said trails have helped spur additional development and vibrancy. An analysis with the action plan estimates the full 36-mile loop would bring almost $25 million in health, transportation and economic benefits a year. 

The full Red Rock Trail System, which was developed in 2010, consists of 750 miles of pathways. Of that, 129 miles have been completed.

 

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