Rails to Trails

The City of Oak Ridge is working on a Rails to Trails project for the adaptive reuse of 4.6 miles of abandoned CSX railroad within the city, to create a greenway for pedestrians and bicycles.

The full greenway will extend from Elza Gate at the Oak Ridge Turnpike, along Belgrade Road, Warehouse Road, Fairbanks Road, and Lafayette Drive, and across S Illinois Avenue to the Y-12 National Security Complex entrance on Scarboro Road. Aside from creating a safe and secure corridor for cyclists and pedestrians that is accessible from surrounding neighborhoods, the greenway will help to expand a greater network of greenways, trails, and sidewalk connections for people to use.

Project funding was initially awarded in 2017, through a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to assist with preliminary studies, design, and acquisition of the right-of-way. Then, the FY2020-2023 Knoxville Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), a four-year work program approved by the Federal Highway Administration, allocated federal transportation funds for 80% of the full construction cost of the 4.6-mile greenway, based on a total project cost of $4.4 Million. Currently, the City’s consultant has completed preliminary studies and design, and the next phase is railway acquisition.

The R2T project supports all three over-arching goals of the Oak Ridge City Blueprint, a community visionary plan that declares that Oak Ridge will improve through planned strategic growth and by knowing and preserving its most cherished values.  http://oakridgeblueprint.info

Over-Arching Goals: Grow our Population & Economic Sustainability, Enhance our Image

& Quality of Place, Improve Connectivity & Mobility.

Community Values: Natural Assets; Education; Science, Technology and Innovation;

and Being Uniquely Oak Ridge.

The greenway system brings parkland nearer to all Oak Ridge citizens.  It provides opportunities for motor-less commuting, enjoyable physical exercise, learning experiences about wildlife, and connections to parks, schools, and shopping areas.

A drop-in public meeting was held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in the Oak Ridge Civic Center Gym, to present the trail design and next steps for the project, and to seek input from residents. Input can also be emailed to railstotrails@oakridgetn.gov. To view the boards presented at the meeting, see below.