The Tennessee Central Trail, otherwise known as the ‘rail trail’, is exploring options of expanding and connecting portions of the trail through Cookeville and Algood.
Rail Trail Board Secretary Don Smith said the possibility of expansion is still in the preliminary stages.
“We still have an audit that has to be completed on phase one to complete that grant and close it out before we know what funds are left over from that,” Smith said. “But we are looking at the possibility of expanding… towards Monterey and also the possibility of going towards Cane Creek Park.”
Smith said the next step would be to take the proposal to the cities of Cookeville and Algood as well as Putnam County officials for approval.
“We’ll look at the feasibility and costs then make recommendations to Cookeville, Algood, and the county,” Smith said. “It’d be their decision then as far as when and if we can [expand]. We’d also have to go out and look for grant money and ways to fund it.”
Smith said the ultimate goal is to make the trail as long as they can to attract more visitors to the area.
“If we could possibly get all the way to Monterey, that would be a nice ride for tourists wanting to come in and ride the grade down,” Smith said. “As far as going towards Cane Creek Park, there are a lot of walkers, a lot of bicyclists locally that would benefit to make that connection.”
Smith said expanding the trail will allow each of the three cities to have an easily-accessible recreation opportunity for everyone across the county.
“We just want to expand the opportunity for people to have a walking and biking trail,” Smith said. “There are not a lot of bicycle and walking-friendly areas in the county, so we just want to try and make a great recreational opportunity.”
Despite the efforts to find funding, Smith said the decision to expand the trail will ultimately be up to the cities of Cookeville and Algood as well as Putnam County officials.
“Right now the trail board is represented by the city of Cookeville, the city of Algood, and Putnam County. It’d be their decision,” Smith said. “We just represent them, we would get the information together, make a recommendation, and then they would have the final decision.”
The Trail board is looking at improving some portions of the trail with visitors in mind, such as including a watering station and bike-repair locations. The bike repair locations would be included in the Algood and Cooekville portions of the trail in case visitors need to make minor repairs or inflate a tire.
Smith said the board will look towards public and private grant opportunities as well as fundraisers like Wine on the West Side to raise money for the potential expansion. The Trail also looks to expand westward through Cookeville and into the Baxter region at some point.