jekyll causeway

Work has begun on the widening of the Jekyll Island causeway to accomodate bike paths.

Bobby Haven/The News

Cyclists will soon find pedaling their way from Glynn County’s mainland to Jekyll Island to be a much smoother and safer ride.

A road-widening project currently underway along the Downing Musgrove Causeway includes a bike path, the Jekyll Island Hopper trail, that connects with the Coastal Georgia Greenway trail.

The Jekyll Island Authority on Monday during a teleconference meeting unanimously approved a resolution in support of a Georgia Recreation Trails Program Grant Proposal, which would help pay for the Island Hopper Trail with $100,000 beginning in fiscal year 2018.

“The authority board fully supported the grant proposal proffered by the JIA Conservation staff,” the authority’s executive director, Jones Hooks, said after the meeting on Monday. “JIA is pleased at the prospect of a connected coastal route for cyclists.”

Funded with money from the Federal Highway Administration, the Recreational Trails Program is responsible for the Coastal Georgia Greenway and is administered at the state level by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites Division.

The centerpiece of the Coastal Georgia Greenway is a contiguous trail connecting South Carolina to Florida as part of the East Coast Greenway along various north-south routes including the U.S. Highway 17 corridor, abandoned rail corridors and historic canal corridors.

Jo Claire Hickson, executive director of Coastal Georgia Greenway, Inc., said during a previous discussion with The News that about 24 percent of the Coastal Georgia Greenway is either existing or has been funded for construction.

The East Coast Greenway started in 1991. Upon completion, it will offer a multi-use trail from Calais, Maine to Key West, Fla. along roughly 3,000 miles of linear trail, stretching through cities, suburbs and rural areas.

The goal is for the entire Greenway to be on paths, completely separated from the road. Along the way, spur trails like the Island Hopper trail will break off and connect to other regional trails like those already snaking their way around Jekyll Island.

More than 30 percent of the greenway route is currently on local, traffic-free, firm-surfaced trails. The remainder is comprised of interim on-road sections that link completed trails together, and occasional ferries and trains where there is currently no safe on- or off-road option.

The grant supported by the authority on Monday would obligate it to a minimum cash match of $10,000 to be used toward design and engineering expenses for the Island Hopper Trail.

The Georgia General Assembly created a joint study committee that received overwhelming support for completing the Coastal Georgia Greenway and in turn allocated $100,000 in state funding for the Coastal Georgia Greenway project.

Through that funding, Brunswick was allocated $17,800 to be used for U.S. Highway 17 bike lanes; Tybee Island was allocated $17,000 for its Marsh Hen Trail; McIntosh County was allocated $3,000 for its Highlander Trail design; the Jekyll Island Authority was allocated $17,800 for its Causeway trail; the City of St. Mary’s was allocated $17,800 for its Tabby Trailhead; and $8,000 is going to Chatham County for its Canebrake Trail.