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Clearing a path
Trails system making significant progress
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The envisioned system of interlocking pedestrian and cyclist trails connecting Oxford, Covington and Porterdale has made significant progress in 2008.

The planned system of trails is a joint undertaking between the nonprofit Newton Trails and Newton County. Newton Trails recently completed a mile-long trail loop in Oxford using funds raised locally.

The nonprofit is in the midst of raising funds for the next loop of a proposed five-mile trail system in Oxford said Erik Oliver, board member of Newton Trails.

The loop will extend 1,200 feet north on Coke Street from Soule Street to Watson Street.

"We are certainly hoping to get as much support as we can," Oliver said. "We have almost no overhead so basically all the money that has been donated goes directly into construction and maintenance of the trails."

To learn more about the mission of Newton Trails, visit their Web site at Financial contributions can be sent to P.O. Box 2010, Covington, Ga. 30015.

"Any kind of contribution is helpful but people can if they want to sponsor an eight-by-eight section of trail for $350. With that contribution, they can have an engraved brick put in the center of [their trail] section," Oliver said.

Plans by the county to build a trail from the Newton County Library on Floyd Street to Eastside High on the Bypass are 80 percent complete said Cheryl Delk, special projects coordinator for Newton County.

Part of the trail will include a pedestrian tunnel beneath the Bypass. That part of the project is being handled by the Georgia Department of Transportation and is close to being let for construction bids.

Construction on the library/Eastside trail is expected to begin in the late spring and take approximately 12 months said Delk.

A second trail leading from Turner Lake to Porterdale is still in the planning stages. Hydrology studies for a pedestrian bridge that would cross the Yellow River need to take place.

"[It’s] a little more complex of a project, that’s why it is taking longer," Delk said. "Plans for that are getting really close as well but we are having to take a closer look at where that pedestrian trail would go because we can’t raise the flood level."

The county also has a grant for a feasibility study on the purchase of some railroad right-of-way that winds through the center of downtown Covington that could be used for the trails system.

Delk said there is also interest in Rockdale County in connecting the Arabia Mountain Trail, which begins in DeKalb County, to Newton County’s trail system.

"We would like to figure out a route from the Monastery [of the Holy Spirit in Conyers]," Delk said. "In the new year, we hope to take a second look at our trails master plan."