Almost 15 miles of trails are now available from Ga. Hwy. 81/Washington Street in Covington to Ziegler Road just west of Newborn after Norfolk Southern signed a lease agreement with Newton Trails.
Newton Trails signed the agreement with Norfolk Southern previously, but didn’t receive the contract back until Wednesday. It’s a yearly lease to use as a trail, with permission for Newton Trails to put gravel down without having to share any plans and managing vegetation. If Newton Trails was to move forward with paving, or reconstruction of bridges, it would have to get prior approval from Norfolk Southern.
“Once we’re able to do risk assessment, post notices and take care of the bridges,” said Sara Vinson, Chair of Newton Trails Board of Directors, “we hope to start hosting some first view walks of the trail.”
The trail will connect Newborn to downtown Covington, allowing people to travel by bike or foot between the two towns.
“This could really be one of the most helpful economic development tools, particularly for small towns,” Vinson said.
Trails have begun to play a big role as an economic driver in cities among millennials. Atlanta has seen success with its Beltline, going through the heart of the city.
“Trails are the new golf course,” Vinson said. “That’s what everybody wants to live by — particularly, millennials and educated people. They like linear towns that have towns, and businesses nearby that connect neighborhoods.”
Vinson said Newton Trails hopes to trim out some of the vegetation on the trail and show it off this spring.
“In May, Newton Trails will hold a member celebration, and we hope that it will be on the rail trail,” she said.