HAMPTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — City and state officials gathered at the Hampton Watershed Trails on Friday to unveil recent developments in the plan to bring the Tweetsie Trail through Hampton.
A ribbon-cutting was held to celebrate the completion of phase one of the Watershed Trails project and a groundbreaking was also held to begin work on the Tweetsie Trail expansion.
Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby said these projects are a major step for the county.
“This is a big deal,” said Woodby. “This is going to really increase our economic activity, our tourism. That’s kind of Carter County’s bread and butter.”
The projects would add 4.5 more miles to the Tweetsie Trail, while the Watershed Trails would gain multiple new trail systems and a pump track.
Woodby said they’ve been discussing these projects for a while.
“I became mayor two and a half years ago and this project was on the table but wasn’t getting much movement,” said Woodby.
Gov. Bill Lee budgeted $6.3 million for the projects.
“We pitched it to the governor a couple of times,” said Woodby. “And the second time it won his heart over and he contributed to complete the project.”
Woodby believes the expansions will help the county draw in visitors by utilizing nature.
“Our bread and butter is our mountains are lakes, our streams, and our rivers,” said Woodby. “That’s what I think many people are seeking.”
Jamison Evans, president of the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), said they jumped at the chance to help early in the projects after hearing from fellow mountain bikers.
“When there was an opportunity to build new downhill trails, our number one comment from mountain bikers are we want more downhill downhill trails in the area,” said Evans. “We of course really, really wanted to be a part of it.”
Evans said he hopes the two projects will encourage members of the community to go biking.
“You can begin on the bike for the first time or you can be a pro, but there will be something between the trail and the Hampton watershed extension that you can get out and enjoy yourself,” said Evans.
The groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting begin the next steps for the projects. Officials hope they will be finished within the next few years.