Singing River Trail to connect Scottsboro to the Shoals; director says bill could hinder the project

Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 7:38 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) -Picture this- getting on your bike in Scottsboro and riding on a trail that goes all the way to the Shoals!

The trail will be 150 miles long when it's finished, but the director of the project says a...
The trail will be 150 miles long when it's finished, but the director of the project says a bill on the table in Montgomery could keep them from taking private land to build it. .(WAFF)

The project is something a group is working hard to turn into a reality.

But a bill in Montgomery could put up roadblocks for the 150 mile trail.

Connecting all the cities in our area, Madison, Huntsville, Athens, Decatur, and more will be a big task.

That’s why leaders for the project say they need all the tools in their toolbox to be successful.

Having to take private land for the trail is a last resort, we’re told. But this bill in question would take that option away.

“We haven’t fully tapped into that potential of outdoor recreation,” John Kvach said.

The Singing River Trail is a collaboration with city, county and state agencies, and it’s something executive director John Kvach says will greatly increase the value of North Alabama.

“Greenways are economic drivers. They not only bring people to the area but they help keep people here because of quality of life. But they’re also key elements to health and wellness,” Kvach said.

A master plan for the project is already in motion, and the entire system is estimated to cost about $120 million.

Kvach says right now they are collecting money through grants, private donations and city funding.

“A lot of areas there’s land already available and part of it we’ll have to acquire,” he said.

That’s where Senate Bill 105 comes in.

As the law stands now agencies can take private property for improving or constructing streets, roadways, government buildings, and park or recreation facilities, such as biking trails, as long as they pay for it.

But if this bill passes, it would take this option off the table for the construction of the Singing River Trail.

“I think for us it’s not really a tool we ever hope we have to use, but to take it off the table, like senate bill 105 wants to do, what you’re really doing is taking local control away from local residents and local businesses,” he explained.

Eric Osborne, is a jogger and loves being in the great outdoors. We caught up with on the Signing River Trail Sunday.

“Anytime you’re outside and being able to get sunshine like today, a pretty day, that’s a good thing.,” Osborne said.

We told him about the debate with lawmakers and eminent domain and he sees both sides.

“At the same time if you own the land, that’s your property,” he continued.

We reached out to two of the sponsors of the bill to hear the motivation behind excluding trails from recreational facilities for eminent domain purposes, but did not hear back.

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