Doodle Trail extension gets early OK

Move would take trail

into downtown Easley

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — Easley officials have always wanted to extend the Doodle Trail to the city’s downtown — a goal shared by downtown business owners.

One of the biggest obstacles in the way of that goal is figuring out how to get walkers and riders across the railroad tracks safely.

Monday night, council members heard about — and gave preliminary approval to — an option that avoids crossing the railroad altogether by funneling walkers down Wilbur Street.

Blake Sanders of Alta Planning and Design gave the presentation.

“How do I get people into downtown the safest way possible?” he asked. “How do you cross the railroad tracks (and) do that in a safe fashion? This is one of the only ways to not have to cross the railroad tracks to be into downtown.”

A number of options were considered and rejected, Sanders said. Fleetwood Drive is too steep to be used as an option. Building a bridge over the tracks appears cost-prohibitive.

A crosswalk has already been approved by DOT, and Doodle Park is already out for bid, Sanders said.

“We know those two things are a given,” he said. “So we know we have to build off of those two.”

The solution would see 1,600 of asphalt greenway coming off of Doodle Park, following the rail line, dipping behind Booker T Circle to Wilbur Street.

“Currently it’s a two-way street,” Sanders said. “The solution is to convert that to a one-way street so you’ll have the remaining width of asphalt for bicycle-pedestrian travel only.”

Pylons would separate walkers and riders from the one-way traffic. The portion of the street adjacent to the railroad tracks would get the same split-railing fencing that runs along the trail.

Councilman Kent Dykes asked if Wilbur Street residents had been asked their opinion of the proposed solution.

Councilman Chris Mann said one resident had been at a recent committee meeting.

“He can only speak for one person, but he said he liked the idea, that it would be a safer road, that it would slow down traffic,” Mann said.

City administrator Stephen Steese said after acquiring properties on the street, the city is actually the majority landholder.

“I’d like to believe, if I had an owner-occupied home on that street and I was told it would go one direction, cut the amount of traffic that’s traveling down, it would please me, especially if I had kids,” Steese said.

The trail would lead through West View Cemetery to the Easley Law Enforcement Center, Sanders said.

“Downtown would be a trailhead, not one specific location,” he said.

The Doodle Trail through the cemetery would be closed during funerals, Mann said. Funeral directors would continue to be responsible for opening and closing the gates during services.

“Funerals would take precedence,” Mann said.

The existing sidewalk in front of the LEC would be widened to accommodate walkers and bicyclists.

The creation of Doodle Park on Fleetwood Drive could easily lead to more development in the area, including “pocket parks” and affordable housing, Sanders said.

“Creating a sense of community in these individual pockets of development,” he said.

Before council signs off on the plan, a public input meeting will be held to garner opinions on turning Wilbur Street into a one-way street.

“We’re ready to go through a public input process,” Sanders said.

If the project is approved, Sanders estimates it could be completed in three months.

The project is estimated to cost $400,000 and will be funded from a $1.5 million bond issue.

Sanders anticipates funds will be left over for additional projects. Part of a larger three-to-five-year plan would be figuring out a way to extend the trail out of downtown, ideally connecting to the Brushy Creek Greenway.