JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Big plans are underway for the Chattahoochee River. Consultants are studying how to build a 100-mile greenway along the waterway, connecting Buford Dam to Chattahoochee Bend State Park.
The Atlanta Regional Commission, in conjunction with nonprofit The Trust for Public Land, the city of Atlanta and Cobb County, has commissioned an 18-month study to develop plans for such a greenway.
The goals of the study are to promote ecological preservation, increase biking and walking, improve access to the river and surrounding cultural landmarks, and to make the waterway a crown jewel for the Atlanta Region.
The Chattahoochee Riverlands project is made up of three types of trails. The greenway would be the main multi-use trail running along the river. Tributary trails would connect the greenway to existing parks, cultural landmarks and trails, like the Big Creek Greenway. The “blueway” would include recreational opportunities on the river.
The project is also divided into northern, middle and southern legs of the river. Stretching from Buford Dam in Forsyth County to the state park in Newnan, Ga., the greenway could connect suburban, urban and rural parts of the region.
Along the northern, or suburban, section of the waterway, the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area and its network of parks could be an asset for the project, but low-density subdivisions and little public transportation could hinder access to the river.
At a June 23 public input session in Johns Creek, some attendees said they were worried about how the project could affect their neighborhoods.
“Please avoid residential property and respect the privacy of the property owners along the river,” one commenter wrote.
“No trail in Ammersee Lakes or Atlanta Athletic Club!!” wrote another.
“Jones Bridge to [Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center] is wild, native habitat for plants and animals,” said one comment. “Enhance, do not destroy natural feel, Barnwell corridor.”
Other comments were more positive.
“Would love for neighborhoods on Forsyth side to have access,” one person wrote.
“Could be premiere whitewater destination,” another said.
The study began last fall, and the design team has spent the past several months researching the region, its history, demographics and ecological concerns along the river. This summer, the team has begun sharing preliminary plans and seeking public input for the project.
“We’re still early on in the process, but this is the first time we’re really unveiling our aspirations to the public,” Riverlands Designer Chris Barnes said. “We like to think that the science and data in conjunction with the community input work together to create this vision.”