JOHNSON CITY, Tenn (WJHL) — Support continues to grow for a massive expansion of a popular Northeast Tennessee hiking and biking trail.
Johnson City leaders recently offered their official support for expanding the Tweetsie Trail, which links Johnson City and Elizabethton along a 10-mile stretch of what once was the historic East Tennessee and Western North Carolina rail line.
In 2014, the trail opened after tracks were removed, a gravel service was completed and bridges were restored for pedestrians and cyclists.
Now there are plans to expand the trail by four miles from its current endpoint in Elizabethton through Valley Forge and Hampton to Roan Mountain.
Last April, Carter County commissioners approved a 28-acre donation of property along an old highway grade and the former East Tennessee and Western North Carolina railway. The section starts at the end of Mill Pond Road in Valley Forge and ends at the terminus of Railroad Street in Hampton.
Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby said a 4-mile expansion plan including multiple letters of support from surrounding governments was presented to Governor Bill Lee when he visited Carter County earlier this week.
Johnson City City Manager Pete Peterson wrote a letter to Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby dated November 24. The letter officially offered the city’s support for a proposed expansion of the Tweetsie Trail.
“An expanded trail will attract more tourists, who will frequent local retail, lodging, and restaurant establishments,” Peterson wrote to Mayor Woodby. “Expanding the Tweetsie Trail will have tremendous positive impact.”
Woodby said she’ll meet with the Tennessee Commissioner of Tourism on Dec. 15 to discuss funding.
“Right now, our biggest hurdle is we need a bridge, and that’s an estimated $3 million price tag,” she said. “But I’m confident we can do this expansion.”