Now in the planning phase, the Old Georgia & Florida Railway Trail will ultimately convert over 250 miles of abandoned railroad track from Augusta GA to Madison FL into a paved and landscaped linear park that will be open year round for hiking, jogging, roller blading, bicycling, wheelchair recreation and non-motorized commuting, with a parallel horse trail. As one of Georgia's greatest assets, the trail will draw visitors from all over the US.
Cost Effectiveness: The principal engineering and construction for this historic rail corridor was completed by the Georgia & Florida Railroad Company almost 100 years ago. The corridor, which runs in an East/West direction from Augusta to Valdosta down to Madison, Fla., has withstood the test of time. The ballast that underlies the track and ties could be utilized to provide a hard, durable, low-maintenance surface at a reasonable cost since almost all of the raw materials needed for the construction are already in place. The bridges along the corridor remain structurally sound, and since the loading criteria can be significantly downgraded because of the reduced weight requirements of pedestrian usage, these bridges should last well into the next century. The cost would be extraordinarily low, the overall advantages immense, the results very favorable and immediate.
Getting Started: The first
phase of development for this rail-trail conversion project is the 30-mile
section from Hazlehurst at milepost 119, to the 13,000-acre Bullard Creek
Wildlife Management Area and over the 3,500 foot long Altamaha River Bridge
at milepost 129, through the towns of Uvalda and Alston, and to the city
of Vidalia, at milepost 149.
The city of Alston has done a beautiful job of incorporating the historic railroad into
their quiet, picturesque landscape.
This section is centrally located between Augusta and Madison and will spawn further development in both directions. World renown for the delicious sweet onions which bare its name, Vidalia will be home of The Old Georgia & Florida Railway Trail Headquarters & Visitors Center. The visitors center, to be located in a circa 1927 brick warehouse alongside the railroad, will feature a museum showcasing the history of the railroad, a comprehensive map and photos of the trail.
This section of track has been owned in fee simple by the railroad since the turn of the century. We are not attempting to put trails on private property, the track and ties on this section of the old Georgia & Florida line are still in place. In order to utilize this historic transportation corridor all we need to do is take up the tracks and ties and deck the bridges. A train has not been on those tracks since 1983.
Our most awesome feature, the old Georgia & Florida Altamaha River Bridge, built in 1908 by the New York Bridge Company, stands solid beneath your feet. The bridge is in excellent condition for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. All it needs is decking, rails and safety fencing. The bridge is so long it is hard to even get a picture of it. As you stand on the bridge you can see the beginning of the Altamaha River as it passes below you. The Altamaha River begins at the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers which is almost within sight of the bridge. When Georgia's largest river, the Altamaha, fills, the entire 3527.30-foot-long bridge has water under it.
This page created February 1998 by Lamar Martin, volunteer secretary for TRAM, using research and excerpts of papers written by David Cheney, president, TRAM Foundation. Last revised June 17,1998.