As the tree root bumps on the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail became increasingly annoying to trail users by 2017, we at Bike Walk Greenville started to look for solutions.
We analyzed the worst sections of the trail and estimated the number of miles that needed repaving.
We started talking to two County Council members, Willis Meadows whose district includes much of the trail, and Chairman Butch Kirven. We wrote to Mr. Meadows on October 1, 2017 where we stated, ‘we recently counted 250 cracks on the trail in the 5 miles between Sulphur Springs Rd and Roe Rd in TR.” We encouraged other advocates to contact Council Member Meadows about the unacceptable condition of the trail.
In subsequent discussions Mr. Meadows acknowledged the need and said that he was looking for ways to fund the repaving. In September 2019 he introduced a motion in the Finance Committee to allocate some funding, that ultimately did not receive enough support.
We then had discussions with Chairman Kirven who agreed that funding must be found and that the asset of the SRT would become a liability if it were not properly maintained, and that Council clearly saw the SRT as a great asset and economic development catalyst.
Mr. Kirven engaged County staff in the fall of 2019, and the idea that County public works crews could repave the worst parts of the trail was developed. It was anticipated that this work could commence in 2020. The record flooding events in the first quarter of 2020 resulted in the public works crews being devoted to storm clean-up, and the SRT project did not proceed.
On September 1, 2020, Director of Greenways Ty Houck gave an update to the County Rec Commission at the quarterly meeting where he stated that repaving could commence in April 2021. As a member of the commission, I was surprised by this proposed delay and again contacted Mr. Kirven, who agreed that is delay was unacceptable. He then worked with County staff to accelerate the project and work commenced three weeks later on September 23, 2020.
This is a big win for our advocacy, and we are happy to be riding on the 3 miles of new smooth pavement installed to date.