ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Anderson County officials said the East West Parkway Trail will be extended, as a more than $5 million extension project is underway.
“This project started years and years ago. When the East West Connector was built. There was a trail that was put in beside it. But every since then, we wanted to have a way to connect it to something,” said Holt Hopkins, Deputy Anderson County Administrator. “So, the Civic Center has a series of trails, so we wanted to connect it to there. And AnMed North Campus, has a series of trails, so we thought it to be great to connect the main trail to that,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins said the Anderson Area Transportation Study committee (ANATS) decided it would use federal funds for the expansion project.
“This is all being done with federal money. It’s called Federal Guide Share Money. And it’s 100 percent paid for, through the guide share program,” Hopkins said.
In total, the expansion will add three additional miles to the East West Parkway Trail. The current trail is three miles long. The trail runs from Highway 81 and stops at the intersection of Clemson Boulevard.
Now, it will extend past that area onto Beltline Boulevard, near restaurants, behind places like Target and Lowe’s. The trail will then connect to the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center.
“With this project, we’ll actually be able to connect them down to a recreational facility, which is the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center, which has quite a few trails on that campus,” said Hopkins. “Down here on the Civic Center side or Anderson Sports Entertainment side, it will be a little less than a mile long.”
“I think having it near restaurants makes it awesome, because it gives you like an end goal. Let’s work out and have lunch,” said Anderson resident Linda Paul.
In addition, there will be two miles added on the other side of the East West Parkway Trail.
“On the other end, it will start right there at 81 near where Ingles is, and it will follow Oak Hill Drive back to the four way stop at Harriett Circle. There will be a smaller connection going down to the Midway School property,” said Hopkins.
The trail will then continue from Harriett Circle, and will go towards McConnell Springs Road, where the path will continue into woods to join AnMed Health’s property at its North Campus.
“I think it’s an awesome idea because I like to walk, and I like to walk in different areas. So, I may not walk the entire track, but I’d like to walk in different areas in the city,” said Sherry Kirkland.
The current trail, including the expansion, will be a little more than six miles long.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea. I love being able to bike, or walk, or jog and not feel like you’re going to get run over by a car or a truck. You know it’s nice to have a place just for pedestrians,” said resident Eric Paul.
Rest areas will also be included, along with a pedestrian bridge to cross a creek near Civic Center Boulevard.
“This is going to be a much safer trail because it’s separated from the road by several feet in most areas,” said Hopkins.
“We don’t have the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but we sure would like to have our own trail,” Hopkins continued. “And this is the beginning of a trail system over the years to come for Anderson.”
Hopkins said officials from the Anderson County, the City of Anderson, and the state, have been pushing this project for years.
“When this project is completed it opens up possibilities for the city to start building on their pedestrian trail system that they’ve got planned,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins said the expansion will also make room for the county to create more trails, and some residents are happy.
“Great thing for the county,” said Kirkland.
Hopkins said this will be a two-year project, but contractors believe the bulk of it could be complete sooner. He also said the South Carolina Department of Transportation is in charge of the project and, once it is complete, they will hand it over to the county.