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Big Creek Greenway growing
Trail creeps north from Alpharetta
Greenway 1 WEB
Dave Campolong takes dog Luke on a walk Wednesday along the Big Creek Greenway. Plans are in the works to connect Forsyth’s section to the greenway trail in Alpharetta. - photo by Autumn McBride

Trail-goers in Forsyth County and Alpharetta can travel only to where the sidewalk ends.

Someday, though, their paths could meet.

A stretch of Big Creek Greenway that links the two sides is in the plans, and a recent Alpharetta extension of the trail has brought it closer.

In June, the city opened up a new .85 mile section, which reaches Marconi Drive near Windward Parkway.

Forsyth County’s portion of the greenway ends at the trailhead on McFarland Parkway. Nearby, however, an 8-foot wide multi-use trail along Ronald Reagan Boulevard extends the path system to McGinnis Ferry Road at the county line.

A connection has been the plan from the start, said Mike Perry, Alpharetta’s recreation and parks director.

“Y’all have done your part. We just have to do ours,” Perry said. “Our intent is to get it as close as we can with the existing Forsyth County trail system … Our engineers are working feverishly to find out where we’re going to put it.”

The popularity of the greenway among Alpharetta residents has led to the northward expansion, he said.

On its south end, the Alpharetta trail connected with the Roswell system about three years ago, he said.

Those two cities and Forsyth County have met periodically since then to discuss how to improve the trail’s efficiency and expand it, Perry said.

At its finish, the greenway could provide 30 to 35 miles of continuous trail from Roswell to Cumming, he said.

“A lot of people like to walk farther than a short couple of miles. They want to walk or run and bike as well for longer distances,” Perry said.

“You could also park at different trailheads and see different parts of the area.”

For now, the Alpharetta/Roswell portion is about 8 miles long and Forsyth County’s is 6.8 miles. A series of sidewalks and roads can help trail travelers bridge the two systems.

Where the Ronald Reagan Boulevard trail stops, a series of sidewalks and streets follow Windward Concourse to Windward Parkway.

They can take folks to the new Marconi trailhead, said Tim Allen, Forsyth County assistant director of engineering.

The Ronald Reagan path does have a short gap to the McFarland Parkway trailhead, Allen said, but a project planned for 2012 will add a connecting sidewalk there, as well as 1 to 1.5 miles along Shiloh Road and Shiloh Road East.

“That will be our connection to tie the Big Creek Greenway up to Ronald Reagan multi-use trail,” he said. “Then we’re done basically with that end. We’re tied to the county line there up to where it ends now at Bethelview [Road.]”

Forsyth is also in the process of completing the final planned trail extension from Bethelview to the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, which would add about 7 miles.

The design phase is finished, Allen said, and the county has begun acquiring right of way.

Construction could start in early 2012, he said, and the next portion of Forsyth’s greenway could open by spring 2013.