By Tia Lynn Ivey
Morgan County leaders would like to see more bicycle routes throughout the county. At the last regular meeting, The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved a letter to the Commissioners of the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) expressing their support for a proposed bicycle route project that could include a route on Price Mill Road going through Bostwick and on to Rutledge.
“We would like to offer our support for the preferred alignment of the U.S. Bicycle Route System through our community,” the commissioners wrote. “We recognize that bicycle tourism is a growing industry in North American, contributing $47 billion annually to the economies of communities that provide facilities for such tourists. As a community, we stand to benefit from this opportunity both economically and from the health and environmental benefits of encouraging bicycle travel. We endorse having the route mapped and signed, thereby promoting bicycle tourism in our area, and we request that the appropriate officials nominate the route(s) for designation.”
According to the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, GDOT has contracted the (NEGRC) “to develop preferred alignments of United States Bicycle Routes (USBR) through our region…at the regional and county level.”
According to Senior Planner John Devine, with the NEGRC, “The USBR system is targeted primarily toward long-distance, overnight cyclists, usually on cross-country or multi-state tours, with high level skills. As such, the only infrastructure that may be required is route signage, installation to be handled by DGOT at a later date, no dedicated facilities improvements such as bicycle lanes are currently associated with this work.
Potential benefits to communities include increased tourism interest, sales-tax collections, hotel/motel occupancy, and local business patronage. Outdoor recreation is an important industry in Georgia, and its value as an economic development tool, especially as compared to its impacts, is significant.”
The BOC hopes the county can capitalize on this project.
“This would be a fantastic economic development opportunity,” said Commissioner Andy Ainslie.
“It would be a gold mine from here to Athens. My understanding is when they put the new four lane highway in they will be looking for ways to include bicycle trails.”