BELTON, SC (WSPA)–Belton’s Rail Trail is finally done after a three-year process. Those with the Belton Alliance said it’s bringing more traffic into downtown.
The rail trail is a Belton Alliance project. The organization said it’s a nearly $800,000 project.
“This has truly been a community project. It’s been a partnership between the private sector. It’s been a Belton Alliance project, but certainly we’ve had donations. We’ve had grants from the private sector, we’ve also had grants from the State of South Carolina,” said Rex Maynard, Treasurer and Board Member with The Belton Alliance.
What used to be an old abandoned railroad track along Belton’s North Main Street and Highway 20 is now the usable walking trail.
“We have finished. We divided it into three phases. The first phase included the trail, and then the second phase, we extended the trail a little bit. We added lighting. And then the final phase of the trail, was the most expensive– which required a bridge over a railroad bed and a cutback under North Main Street, as well,” Maynard said.
The trail starts at the Belton Library and ends at the Leda Poore Park. Maynard said if you walk around the park and back to the library, that’s a little more than three miles.
“We have a number of things that make the trail a great place to be. We have exercise equipment at two different locations where if somebody would like to, they can stop and do different exercises. Sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups,” Maynard said.
There are also lights for night walkers and sitting areas along the trail.
“We’ve added landscaping and plantings. We have a number of benches were you can sit and visit,” Maynard said.
“One of the goals of the trail is to enhance Belton and hopefully help us with the economic growth, and new businesses in town. We’ve had a couple of restaurants that opened up right across North Main from the trail,” Maynard said. “We do feel like it has attracted businesses here, especially a couple of restaurants that are located along North Main,” Maynard said.
The Homeplace is located across from the Rail Trail. One employee said she has seen the foot traffic since they opened in February.
“There’s lots of stuff that you can see on this trail and people will come in for drinks. People will come in after their workouts for chicken, or hamburgers. It seems like it’s a good opportunity,” said Courtney Malone, Leadership Team Member at the Homeplace. “I would say it’s bringing in more traffic then if it wasn’t there,” Malone said.
For some businesses, their sales have escalated with the trail nearby.
“I think we’ve seen an increase in business since the trail is now completed. We probably seen a 10, 15 percent increase,” said Jim Bright, Owner of the Merchantile of Belton and Belton Council Member for Ward 1.
After more than 10 years of discussion, the project has and will bring the community together.
“We’re going to have panels here that will have art done by students at Belton-Honea Path High School,” Maynard said.
“Bringing in extra traffic,” Malone said.
“I think the more people walk the trail, it makes them more interested in what our business is and what we do,” Bright said.
The Belton Alliance will have a dedication ceremony on Thursday, May 20th at 5 p.m. The program will be held at the trailhead, outside the Belton Library. Maynard said the group will give the rail trail an official name that day. Music and a BBQ food truck will also follow the ceremony.