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Upstate Lowdown: What’s going on with the River Birch Trail behind Spartanburg High School?

Published by the Spartanburg Herald Journal; to view the full article, click here

Partners for Active Living’s latest project behind Spartanburg High School caught the eye of reader Harold Nixon, who saw the tree clearing around River Birch Trail. While it may look like a road it being built, PAL Executive Director Laura Ringo said the old trail is being repaired.

“The trail had fallen into significant disrepair and so is being rebuilt and expanded up toward East Main Street,” Ringo said.

Repairing the trail will involve clearing away overgrowth, removing cracked and crumbling pavement and repaving. The area around the trail will also be stabilized as part of the expansion. Ringo said the group is paying special attention to minimize and eliminate where possible the environmental impacts construction could have on the waterway.

The trail, located near Lawson’s Fork Creek, was originally paved in 1981, thanks to a donation from the Junior League of Spartanburg. It was Spartanburg’s first paved trail.

The expanded trail will be a little over a half-mile long, expanded from 0.4 miles to 0.6 miles, and will have a widened entrance to make it more visible.

The River Birch Trail is part of PAL’s plan for a citywide trail network made up of about 30 miles of connected trails. Ringo said that in addition to the River Birch expansion, the creation of a pedestrian bridge connection between the Drayton Mills and the Beaumont Mills neighborhood is also underway.

“We know that by connecting to places people want to go, we can reduce the number of car trips that we take and thus reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” Ringo said. “ What we seek are high-quality facilities that will serve the recreation and transportation needs of the community for many years.”

Other aspects of the project will include a connector trail from the Rail Trail’s Country Club Road trailhead to Glendale Shoals, which is currently in engineering with the S.C. Department of Transportation, and connector trails to Barnet Park and Westview Elementary School, both slated to start construction in early 2019.

Ringo said there are also plans for more paved trails within the network thanks to the accessibility paved trails offer to people with mobility issues, as well as those with young children coming onto the trail with strollers, trikes or training wheels.

“Getting out in nature is a gift,” Ringo said. “Many doctors link it to improved physical and mental health and happiness. All of us, regardless of our ability, deserve safe facilities.”