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Lela Garlington - The Commercial Appeal -
The Cordova Leadership Council is soliciting support for a state transportation grant that would help extend the Shelby Farms Greenline into Cordova.
"It's definitely go time on this. We are a big advocate of the greenline," Brian Stephens said. "It'll start to make Cordova a more walkable and rideable community."
While some Cordova neighborhoods back up to Shelby Farms, Stephens said, "Now, you have to load up in a car and drive to Shelby Farms before you can enjoy the trails and the greenline."
Stephens is vice president of the Leadership Council. He estimated 20,000 people got the e-mail.
So far, the rails-to-trails project is 6.6 miles and follows the former CSX Railroad line. It runs from Midtown to Farm Road and Mullins Station at the corner of Shelby Farms.
Stephens expects that state officials will reach a decision on the grant by mid-September.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has already gotten a handful of e-mails supporting the county's grant request.
"I don't think it can hurt," he said of the push. "It certainly highlights awareness of the project."
Supporters also sent e-mails to local state senators and officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The county has applied for funding under the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. The county wants to extend the trail another 4.3 miles from Farm Road to the Cordova Train Station in Cordova The Town.
County officials estimate the total project will cost $4.4 million. About $3.1 million is earmarked for buying the right-of-way from the railroad and $1.3 million in construction costs. Because private donations will fund about 25 percent of the costs, the county is seeking $3.3 million in funding.
The project's local funding comes from the .18 cent of tax that is paid on a gallon of fuel.
If the county gets the funding, the biggest construction obstacle will be crossing the heavily traveled Germantown Parkway. County officials are considering deviating from the alignment and creating an extension of less than a mile to Macon Road, where there is an existing traffic light, before reconnecting to the railroad right-of-way.
Ideally, county officials say they hope more and more residents use the Shelby Farms Greenline to commute to work and ease congestion on Walnut Grove Road, Germantown Parkway and U.S. 70.
The project proposal called the first 6.6 miles of the greenline an "unanticipated success." One count last October showed almost 800 bicyclists per day using the greenline. Another two-day count in April saw an average of 173 bicyclists and 60 pedestrians on the greenline.