AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - It's a project 16 years in the making, and now it's open to the public. The new River Levee Trail along the Augusta Canal was a pretty expensive project, and it's still not done yet.
Rebecca Rogers, the marketing director for the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, said the trail and bridges that were built cost $1.7 million, and after extensive planning, she's glad the trail is finally open.
"It's been on the drawing board for quite sometime and we had to put together the funding phase by phase. It's just really great to officially say that it's open," she said.
The project was funded through a series of grants from a variety of sources.
"The funding came from several sources. A grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, it was matched partially by funding from the SPLOST, the Special Local Option Sales Tax, and funds from Canal Authority Operations," said Rogers.
Money that trail users like Jan Jackson say is well spent.
"I'm impressed with the way it looks and how nice the surface is to walk on. Just everything is so much cleaner and better kept, I've noticed that the sides of the path are well mowed now, you know just cleared out and the brush is cleared out," Jackson said.
"I would like to either see possible security cameras or personnel, and I know that's hard with the economic times and the budget that we have but I would feel a little safer if we had that," she said.
Rogers says the next phase of the trail is to expand the exit into downtown around Fifteenth Street, and Jackson encourages everyone to get out and enjoy the new trail.
"I think it's a resource that we haven't utilized very much and I think this is a real step in the right direction towards doing that," Jackson said.
There are some events coming up this weekend at the River Levee Trail.
On Saturday, October 10, the Major Donahue 5K Run/Walk will honor fallen US Army soldier Major Mike Donahue. Major Donahue was killed in Afghanistan on September 16. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. with registration at the Augusta Green Jackets Stadium. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Augusta Warrior Project.
On Sunday, October 11, Augusta Canal Project Manager Russell Foster will lead a guided tour of the new trail. The tour starts at 3:00 p.m. and will give walkers the chance to learn about the trail's construction and future projects.