SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – There is a plan in the works for a 31-mile-long trail to connect South Carolina and North Carolina.
The Saluda Grade Railroad hasn’t been used since 2001. The plan is for the Saluda Grade Trail to extend from Inman, South Carolina to Zirconia, North Carolina.
Nearly 16 miles of the railroad is in South Carolina and 15 in North Carolina.
The project is a collaborative effort from both state and local representatives along with non-profits.
“This will be like a rocket ship taking off right here at Inman. This is the epicenter right where we are and just skyrocketing right on through Landrum. It’ll bring quality of life, quality of jobs, quality of place,” said Spartanburg County Councilmember David Britt.
Britt said there has already been $5 million allocated towards this project.
“I see this as an opportunity for tremendous economic development and growth,” said Britt.
The plan is for the railroad to be ripped up and a multi-use trail to take its place.
“For cycling, for hiking, biking, just a general walk, you know, for people to interact. I think it brings communities together,” said Michael Forrester.
Michael Forrester is with one of the non-profits involved. He said this trail could bring revitalization and growth to many areas.
“This will impact so many small towns along the way, from Inman to Landrum to Campobello, Tryon, Saluda, North Carolina, Zirconia, North Carolina,” he said.
He said the 31 miles of trail could be intersected with other trails along the way.
“Potentially, there could be hundreds of miles of access to trails along this,” said Forrester.
He said this idea has been in the works for some time.
“We have three non-profits that have come together and that represents Conserving Carolina, Upstate Carolina and PAL,” he said.
Right now, Norfolk Southern owns the inactive railroad.
“Next step, Norfolk Southern just has to get it turned over and deeded to the three non-profits,” said Britt.
Forrester said there’s no timetable yet, but once everything is finalized, the project could take up to five or six years. He said ripping up 31 miles of railroad doesn’t happen overnight.
7NEWS reached out to Norfolk Southern, but they declined to comment at this time.