Writer: Roger Nielsen
Walking in the footsteps of Civil War ancestors who clashed at Chickamauga National Military Park no longer means dodging traffic across a four-lane divided highway.
The new Chickamauga Battlefield Connector Trail, which incorporates Institute of Government design work, curves gently through an underpass so visitors can easily reach the military park from the City of Chickamauga without crossing the high-speed road.
Chickamauga City Councilman Evitte Parrish said the new connector is the kind of multi-use trail residents asked for in a Renaissance Strategic Visioning and Planning (RSVP) study the Institute of Government completed last year.
“It’s a huge expansion of our trail system and a great benefit to the people of Chickamauga and the surrounding area,” Parrish said.
The trail project was a collaboration involving the City of Chickamauga, CTI Engineers Inc., Phillips-Creasey Landscaping, the Institute of Government and the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design, with support from the Riverview Foundation and its parent, the Lyndhurst Foundation.
Institute of Government design staff helped graduate-level landscape architecture students at CED’s Urban Design Studio create directional signs to guide pedestrians and bicyclists to the new connector. Institute designers refined the students’ blue-and-gray trailhead signs and stacked cannonball motif and traveled with them to Chickamauga to install the finished signs, according to faculty member Danny Bivins.
“This was a student concept that our design team then modified so construction and bid documents could be prepared to facilitate the installation,” Bivins said.
Design and construction of the 8-foot-wide asphalt trail itself was managed by CTI Engineers and funded by a $105,000 Riverview Foundation grant. The foundation provided an additional $10,000 for wayfinding elements and landscaping.
CTI Branch Manager Philip Schofield said the students created attractive sign concepts.
“I thought it was great. I liked what they put together. It seems like they put a lot of work into it,” Schofield said.
The Chickamauga Battlefield Connector Trail eventually will extend to the city center and tie into what area leaders foresee as a regional trail network. The City of Chickamauga and the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission envision a trail from Chickamauga’s Coke Oven Park to an old coal-mining community on Lookout Mountain that would intersect trails south to Cloudland Canyon State Park and north to Chattanooga, Tenn.
The opportunity to add a link to a regional trail system is one reason the Riverview Foundation lent its support to the Chickamauga Battlefield Connector Trail project, according to Riverview Executive Director Benic “Bruz” Clark III.
“There’s tremendous potential in this area to expand outdoor recreation opportunities,” Clark said. “The beauty of this particular section is it creates a much safer route to the battlefield under U.S. Highway 27.”
Clark also is president and treasurer of the Lyndhurst Foundation, which funds community revitalization strategies, arts and cultural activities, education, and conservation and outdoor recreation projects in Chattanooga and the surrounding 16-county region. Lyndhurst supported a regional trail feasibility study with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission in 2017 and the Institute’s Chickamauga RSVP study in 2018, and provides support for the CED Urban Design Studio managed by Associate Professor Doug Pardue.