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Paducah Workshop Provides Insights Into Tennessee RiverLine Trail Project

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Hannah Bullard
/
WKMS

Paducah and McCracken County have paired with an organization aiming to create a 652-mile multi-state recreational trail.

The Tennessee RiverLine Project held a public workshop in Paducah on Thursday to receive feedback from the community and guide the future of the project.

The “652 To You” workshop consisted of different activities, where participants could mark on a map where they spend the most time outdoors, discuss the project and choose which developments they’d like to see Paducah invest in first.

Although new developments will be made for the recreational trail, Paducah was chosen as a pilot community for its existing riverfront resources including the greenway trail, the boat dock, and riverboat cruises.

Brad Collett is the Director of the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership and an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

He said the trail system is aimed mainly at connecting existing resources. 

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Credit Hannah Bullard / WKMS
/
WKMS
Left to Right: Mike Hooker, Damien Simbeck with TVA, and Project Director Brad Collett

Collett said he believes along with funding from local dollars the leverage Paducah will have, once involved in a such a large connected system, will bring the community grant opportunities from foundations, as well as regional, state and federal agencies.

Collett said"trails shape economies" and, through visitation, direct investment, and indirect spending, he expects the economic impact of the Tennessee RiverLine project to be significant.

The proximity of the Tennessee RiverLine has economic opportunities as a paddling destination similar to that of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Smoky Mountains are the most visited in the parks system. Collett said this is because it's the closest within a half day or day drive to significant populations in the Midwest, SouthEast, NorthEast and Mid-Atlantic.

The multi-state trail system is expected to improve the quality of life people in Paducah and McCracken County have by creating opportunity and excitement for public health.

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Credit Hannah Bullard / WKMS
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WKMS
Local couple choosing spots on Paducah map where they most enjoy being active outdoors.

In his presentation, Collett pointed to Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a community on the RiverLine trail that exemplifies what riverfront investment can do

Collett noted since 1992, when Chattanooga has been investing in their Riverfront and their city-wide bikeable transportation channels, it has seen $5 billion of private investment.

“Corporations know that in order to attract and retain top talent, they need to provide a place that top talent would want to live” Collett said, when mentioning Volkswagen's recent move to Chattanooga over other competing cities. Volkswagen specifically cited the quality of life Chattanooga would be able to give their employees a reason to their decision.

Collett said he hopes this trail system "rekindles the relationship between resource landscape, quality of life, and economic growth."

Collett said that the participation he has seen from Paducah’s community and its leaders has been inspiring and validating. Moving forward the Tennessee RiverLine Project will be doing landscape analysis to note gaps in the trail.

He acknowledged that anyone can hop into a kayak and paddle the Tennessee River right now, but the RiverLine Project will create a community along the trail promoting safe and informative travel.

An official timeline has yet to be set for the project’s completion.

Collett compared the Tennessee RiverLine to the Appalachian Trail, explaining the development will be generational as communities grow their relationship with their waterways.

The Tennessee RiverLine has an interactive online survey available at tnriverline.org. The survey will be available until the end of this month.

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Hannah is a Murray State Journalism major. She found her place in radio during her second year in Murray. She is from Herndon, KY, a small farming community on the Kentucky/Tennessee stateline.
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