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County looks to expand walking trail

Colleton County officials are asking for a third state grant that would extend a relatively new walking trail and biking path.

The ACE Trail is a more than 1-mile trail that began in 2015. It is a part of a master countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan that is being supported and created by Colleton County Council and county planning and development officials.

This master project plan includes creating new sidewalks in the county. It also includes building new walking trails and biking paths that would connect rural parts of the county to Walterboro.

The plan is using former railroad beds from the Atlantic Coastline Railroad and is turning those beds into trail paths. Portions of these beds are owned by Colleton County and by the City of Walterboro.

In late 2017, county officials announced that the first phase of the plan is complete. That is a 1.8-mile trail, which was originally funded through a grant. The trail begins near the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Green Pond Highway.

The second phase of the project was also put into place in late 2017 and into early 2018. This part of the project created a parking lot at the end of this trail: that public parking lot is meant for people wanting to walk or bike the path.

Now, county officials are working toward finishing that parking lot. “It is built … there is some landscaping and signage to be installed now,” said Phillip Slayter, Colleton County Planning director.

Slayter has spearheaded the project from the beginning. He is overseeing the current work and is also working with county officials on future plans that will continue to expand the trail.

In addition to the ongoing work onto the parking lot, Slayter is also applying for a third state grant from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission.

If the county receives the grant funds, the money will be used toward extending the trail.

The trail now ends at Clover Hill Road. These grant funds would extend it to Cyrus Lane, he said.

“The overall plan is to create a trail that goes from where it is now all the way into Walterboro, for a focus on rural health and recreation,” he said. Right now, however, that plan is not funded.

Slayter says there are also plans for the county to build a shelter and picnic structure at the parking lot area. There is no timeline on this construction; however, bids for the structure are being sent out now, he said.

In addition to these projects being supported by the county, the Friends of the ACE Trail is also supporting the plan. This is a non-profit group that is helping to move the plans forward by fundraising for the project.

In addition to the SCPRT grant and the collected funds from the Friends of the ACE Trail, the walking and biking paths are also being funded through Colleton County funds.

Heather Walters (1389 Posts)