Survey Shows Strong Support for Railway Trail
Easley, Pickens hope to partner on eight mile trail on former Pickens Railway line.
A recent survey conducted by the Pickens County YMCA shows great support for a plan to convert an eight mile stretch of railway into a multi-use trail that would connect Easley and Pickens.
Officials with Easley and Pickens are hoping to jointly purchase the railway track. The project could cost $500,000 and officials with both cities are hoping for a 50/50 purchase agreement.
The project is being referred to as the Doodle Line or Doodle Trail, after the Pickens Doodle, the train that ran from Pickens to Easley in the heyday of the railroad in the area.
Results of the survey are greatly encouraging to Easley city officials.
“The Y survey was very positive,” said Easley City Administrator Fox Simons.
The survey was sent out to Pickens County YMCA membership.
Councilman Chris Mann shared survey results during a recent bicycle/pedestrian committee meeting.
Question 1: Would you support the use of public tax dollars to purchase the Doodle Railroad for a Rails to Trails project?
“84 percent said yes, absolutely,” Mann said. “12 percent said yes, but not with tax money.”
Question 2: Would you be willing to contribute monetarily to the purchase and development of the Doodle Railroad into a trail?
“50 percent said,'Yes, I will contribute,” Mann said. “39 percent said, 'No, I would not contribute but I would use the trail. 9 percent said, 'No, I would not contribute because I would not use it.'”
Question 3: If you said yes to the previous question, how much would you consider donating?
That questions got a wide range of responses, from from $10 to $50 to $1,000.
Question 4: In your opinion, how important is it for our community to have a bike and pedestrian trail similar to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville?
“54 percent said extremely important,” Mann said.
Only 5 percent said it wasn't important at all, he said.
Mann said many respondents commented that they go to Greenville to use the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
A couple of people said that they had been thinking of moving to Greenville and that such a trail would help encourage them to continue living in Pickens County.
“I'm not seeing a whole lot of negative,” Mann said. “I think we're on the right track. I think most people are behind it.”
Simons said both cities need to own the trail due to liability concerns, but Easley and Pickens could create a non-profit organization that would oversee the project.
Officials with both cities hope that the project will receive support from county council.
If negotiations are successful, the trail could be usable as a dirt path very quickly, then future improvements could be made on it.
“Once the steel is up and the ties are up, it's a trail,” Simons said. “It's a 3 percent grade from here to Pickens. It has two bridges, so you may have to put trellises or fencing up so people don't fall.”
Members of a Main Street South Carolina design team that held planning and input session this week in Pickens spoke of the impact that the Swamp Rabbit Trail has had on Greenville and Travelers Rest, and the impact that a Doodle Trail could have on Pickens.
During the presentation held Thursday afternoon, the design team spoke of the possibility of extending the Doodle Trail, if purchased, at the Pickens end.
Tom McGilloway with the design team touched on the trail during a presentation of physical improvements that could be made to Pickens to encourage growth, tourism and new and existing businesses.
The Doodle Trail is “a tremendous opportunity,” he said.
Bike lanes could be used to connect the Doodle Trail to Pickens' Town Creek Park. City officials hopes to install many bike features in the park in the near future.
Lanes could encourage bikers using the Doodle Trail to bike into Pickens, perhaps along Court Street, which would take them right by the in-the-works visitors center and a newly opened art gallery.
“It would a great way to bring visitors in,” McGilloway said.
The presence of the Doodle Trail and the Town Creek Bike Park could encourage bike-related retail.
“There's a market for some retailers, where it's outfitters or recreation-related … to tie in with this trail,” McGilloway said.
Tripp Muldrow agreed, stating that the Swamp Rabbit Trail had revealed previously untapped markets to Travelers Rest and Greenville.
“That's more evidence for the Doodle,” Muldrow said. “This isn't just a recreation thing, this is just for the fun of riding a bike. This is an economic development tool.”