HAMPTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — Tri-Cities cyclists will soon be able to bike from Johnson City to Hampton on the Tweetsie Trail thanks to new funding approved in the state budget.
The Tennessee Senate gave final approval to Governor Bill Lee’s budget on April 20, including a $6.3 million allocation for bike infrastructure in Carter County.
The money will help the county expand the Tweetsie Trail from its existing end-point to existing mountain biking trails at the base of Cedar Mountain in Hampton, and build a state-of-the-art bike park.
It’s a plan that county officials and outdoor sports enthusiasts have been working on for years.
“It was at first considered a pipe dream,” said Wes Bradley, a Trail Liaison For the Southern Off-Road Biking Association (SOBRA).
Bradley told News Channel 11 that SOBRA had failed several times to secure grant or city funding to complete the project until County Mayor Patty Woodby began lobbying for state funding.
Though the project failed to secure funding in Gov. Lee’s 2022-23 budget, Bradley said today it’s time to celebrate overcoming those setbacks.
“It’s just a huge win for us,” Bradley said. “It’s literally one of the biggest infusions of funding for outdoor recreation and tourism in northeast Tennessee.”
Woodby said she’s already hearing from interested bikers who are eager to hit the new trails, which she said should be completed in about two years.
“All the engineering is complete, we just had to have the money to start constructing the bridge,” said Woodby, referring to the planned reconstruction of a former railroad bridge over the Doe River.
When completed, Bradley said the options for biking will range across all skill levels and activities.
“It’s a whole new level of adventure,” Bradley said. “Whether you want to you know, do a giant out-and-back day from Johnson City to Hampton one day, just on the Tweetsie Trail, or if you want to get a ton of elevation climb and the single track trails, not to mention the historic value of ringing that corridor back to life.”
The bike park will serve a multifaceted purpose too.
“We’re in essence creating a skate park, and a bike park with all these elements that we’ll have in the bike park,” said Bradley. “This will be for scooters, for rollerbladers, for skateboarders, for BMX riders and also for mountain bikers.”
Bradley hopes the bike park will draw in more than tourism.
“It truly will be a new community hub where families can come and enjoy a park-like setting and be able to let the kids burn off the energy,” said Bradley.
Woodby agreed. She said the project isn’t just to boost tourism.
“It’s more so about quality of life,” Woodby said. “It’s important to our locals also to be able to get out on the trails and bike and hike and have your children out outdoors instead of indoors cooped up in the home.”