FAIRHOPE — A plan to link existing and planned bicycle and walking trails around Baldwin County could allow cyclists and pedestrians to travel across the region on a network of pathways.
The County Connectivity Plan would coordinate efforts around Baldwin to provide walkways and bicycle paths. The Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board discussed the plan at its work session Wednesday, April 13.
Sarah Hart Sislak, ESMPO coordinator, said the group has been working with groups such as the Baldwin County Trailblazers to develop a joint plan for the area.
"Basically, the purpose of this plan is to identify future bike, ped projects to where you could, if you wanted, walk or ride your bike from anywhere in the county all around," Sislak said. "We're looking for connections that are missing."
The map for the County Connectivity Plan includes existing routes such as the Eastern Shore Trail, which extends from the Mobile Bay Causeway down the Eastern Shore to Fish River. The plan would have that trail connect with a proposed off-road trail going to Magnolia Springs and Foley.
In Foley, the proposed Foley-Gulf Shores Trail would extend south to the Gulf Coast. Another proposal calls for a trail to follow the right of way of the discontinued L&N Railroad line from Foley north to Bay Minette.
Other proposed trails would extend from Fairhope east along Alabama 104 through Silverhill to Robertsdale. Another route would go through Spanish Fort north toward White House Fork.
Sislak said project supporters are working with officials throughout the county.
"We're basically wanting all 14 municipalities and the county," Sislak said. "We want it to span the whole county. When you get up north of Bay Minette, it gets kind of difficult. There're really not many routes that we've identified out that way, so at this point we're concentrating on Bay Minette southward, but we do want it to be countywide."
She said supporters and officials will have to find the money to build the new routes. She said one possible source of funding is the federal Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP.
"We hope that this map in the future will guide the TAP grant applications and if there's an opportunity, the municipalities that border this could support the TAP grant," she said.
The MPO oversees the distribution of some federal transportation funding on the Eastern Shore and in the Loxley area. The policy board consists of the mayors and other municipal representatives from Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope and Loxley, two county commissioners and state highway officials.