The Clarksville Greenway will soon be connected to Austin Peay State University, in a plan that will eventually allow people to bike, walk or run from Downtown Commons, through APSU, across the Red River and all the way up to Billy Dunlop Park.
The new, 10-foot-wide asphalt walkway will span a little more than half a mile, from Kraft Street to Robb Avenue, and is being paid for with a $400,000 grant from the Clarksville-Montgomery County Community Health Foundation, according to an APSU news release.
The city, which already has plans to carry the Greenway south over the Red River, will connect this extension to meet Austin Peay’s property at the former railroad underpass on Kraft Street.
From there, the Greenway will circle around the front of the Emerald Hill mansion, then connect to Robb Avenue at Farris Drive, near the APSU baseball field, according to plans provided to The Leaf-Chronicle.
In September, the city received a $1.82 million grant to pay for the Greenway pedestrian bridge over the Red River.
The bridge will connect the northern end of existing Cumberland RiverWalk to the southern point of the Greenway, creating a seamless 10-mile hiking and biking trail. It will involve construction of a 290-foot long, 10-foot wide bridge that will cross the Red River at the site of a former railroad bridge.
Environmental studies are under way for that project, said Richard Stevens, city spokesman.
Last April, the city received a donation of 15.86 acres of property to carry the Greenway under 101st Airborne Division Parkway.
The property is along the west side of Big West Fork Creek, also called the West Fork of the Red River, on the north and south sides of 101st Airborne Division Parkway.
With the donation of that property, the city should be able to extend another leg of the Greenway north from the Pollard Road Trailhead to continue following the creek, going under the existing 101st Parkway bridge.
That project is in the early planning stages, Stevens said.
“The APSU Sustainable Campus Fee Committee and the APSU Physical Plant have been working together for the last year to secure funding for this important connection to the Clarksville Greenway,” Haley Randell, APSU sustainability coordinator, said in the release.
“We are focused on getting more people on bikes for commuting and recreational use and for the benefit of our environment and collective health. With the combination of the free use of our BCycle stations and the car-free Greenway, the APSU community can take full advantage of the trails in our beautiful city.”
In 2017, the city installed a BCycle station at the Foy Fitness and Recreation Center that is free for all APSU students, staff and faculty. Additionally, Clarksville has four other BCycle locations. This resource, in combination with the connection to the Clarksville Greenway, will open up more than 10 miles of bike paths and further Austin Peay’s long-term goal of encouraging commuters to use alternative transportation.
According to the 2016 APSU Parking and Transportation Master Plan, less than 2% of all surveyed participants reported riding a bicycle to or from campus because of safety concerns, but a recent study published in the Journal of Transport Geography found that bicycling to work improves productivity, happiness and physical health.
“The mission of the CMC Community Health Foundation is to promote general health in our community by awarding one-year grants to organizations that propose projects that promote and improve the health of our residents,” Khandra Smalley, chair of the CMCCHF public relations committee, said.
“Once submitted, grant applications undergo a review process, evaluating the impact of the proposed project. Since 2009, the CMCCHF has approved over 150 applications, totaling over $10,900,000 in grant funding. The expansion of the Greenway will be another great exercise option for APSU students and area residents.”
For information on the CMCCHF, visit communityhealthfoundation.org. To support APSU fundraising initiatives, contact the Office of University Advancement at 931-221-7127.