SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The Saluda Grade Trail is one step closer to reality following an agreement on the purchase of an inactive rail line.
A coalition of nonprofits, Conserving Carolina, PAL: Play, Advocate, Live Well, and Upstate Forever, announced that they have signed an agreement with Norfolk Southern on the terms of their future purchase of the line.
The group announced plans last summer for a 31-mile trail from Zirconia, North Carolina to Inman, South Carolina.
The trail will follow the path of a railroad line which has not been used since 2001.
The groups did not disclose the terms of the deal, citing a confidentiality agreement. They expect to close on the deal within two years.
“The Saluda Grade Rail Trail will be a transformative project for the region,” said Laura Ringo, executive director of PAL. “This rail-to-trail will be a destination and provide a boost to the Spartanburg County tourism economy, especially for the cities along the route like Landrum, Campobello and Inman.”
Ringo said they expect the trail to draw 125,000 visitors in its first year, with many choosing to spend money at local businesses along the route.
The coalition said they are working on an economic impact and feasibility study and will seek input from landowners and stakeholders along the route.
Spartanburg County officials announced in July that $5 million had already been allocated toward the project.