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Big Creek Greenway opens new phase

FORSYTH COUNTY -- Training for that half-marathon has just been made a bit easier with the opening of Phase 4 of Forsyth County’s Big Creek Greenway.

After nearly a year’s delay, the new stretch of trail is ready for public use, adding about 2.8 miles to the existing Greenway. The path now runs close to 10 miles, beginning near McFarland Parkway and ending at Johnson Road, according to a Forsyth County news release.

“The Big Creek Greenway in Forsyth County is a very popular amenity, and we are excited to open up this new phase for use,” said Jim Pryor, director of parks and recreation for the county. “We are sincerely appreciative of the voters’ support in 2008 of the Parks, Recreation and Green Space Bond that made this new section of the trail possible.”

The Greenway is a 12-foot wide, multi-use trail ideal for walking, jogging, biking and inline skating. It is made of both concrete and boardwalk, with 4-foot shoulders on either side of the path.

Voters approved the project in 2008, and Phases 1, 2 and 3 of the trail opened in 2009. Since then, developers have been expanding the Greenway, with the completed trail planned to reach Sawnee Mountain Preserve — an estimated 16-17 miles in total length.

Construction of Phase 4 began in 2014 and was originally scheduled to open in 2015.

However, the project was delayed after some areas spilled onto private land, requiring the county to settle with property owners.

County commissioners voted 4-0 last month to resolve disputes with the landowners, allowing for expansion to continue.

In March, the county also settled with the project’s contractor, CRS Building Corp.

“In some areas of the new phase, due to the lay of the land on which we needed to build, there is a bit of a slope or incline,” District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent said. “I have heard from some constituents that this will be welcomed from the perspective of providing a greater workout challenge.

“I have also heard from some constituents who had some concerns about the incline. To that end, we are considering the possibility of adding a spur in this area in the future that could potentially provide an alternative for those looking for a more family friendly route.”

The trail narrows slightly in some spots due to bridge-widening construction. The narrowing is temporary, however, and the trail is expected to return to its normal width once the bridge project is finished in about two years.

Two sections of the path are also temporarily closed but are expected to reopen by Aug. 31.

The segment between McFarland Parkway and Union Hill Road trailheads, from mile maker 1.3 to mile marker 1.4, is closed due to construction on Ga. 400.

Phase 1 is also being renovated, resulting in the temporary closure from the Union Hill Road trailhead extending north about a half-mile to mile maker 0.4.

All four of the trailheads will remain open throughout these closures, however.

Construction of Phase 5 — the final stretch of the Greenway — has already begun, but no end date has been set. Phase 5 is expected to add another 5-6 miles to the trail.

The trail will be open daily March through October from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and November through February from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.