In spite of boasting flat terrain, an attractive, pre-automobile street grid in much of the city center and nearly year-round favorable weather, Savannah, Georgia, lacks a comprehensive, connected trail system for non-motorized transportation and recreation - unlike many cities in the state.
Led by the efforts of local partners Friends of Tide to Town, Bike Walk Savannah, Healthy Savannah, YMCA of Coastal Georgia, City of Savannah and Chatham County, the East Coast Greenway Alliance is working to address this shortcoming by advocating for increased funding at the federal, state and local levels.
Recently, Savannah was awarded “$3 million to begin work on the next phase of Savannah’s Truman Linear Park Trail, part of the Tide to Town trail network,” according to a press release from Sen. Reverend Raphael Warnock. This earmark was part of $11.3 million in Congressional support dedicated to East Coast Greenway and Greenway-adjacent projects in 2022.
By lifting up this important project as part of the Greenways for All effort, the Alliance hopes to build on this momentum.
Savannah is a popular tourist destination, and a growing share of those tourists both desire and require efficient, safe and economical mobility choices. The historic city center simply cannot accommodate an increase in motor vehicles.
More importantly, Savannah suffers from high rates of poverty, which makes reliance on a private automobile well out of reach for many residents. A connected system of paved multi-use paths will create an equitable, sustainable transportation network, while also providing residents and visitors alike with a memorable and healthy recreational activity.
Once completed, the Tide to Town trail system will connect over a dozen neighborhoods, parks, schools and employment centers, including major hospitals and the National Landmark Historic District. It will provide a safe, low-stress place to walk, jog, roll or bicycle, whether that's for weekend leisure and exercise or daily transportation.
A completed and comprehensive trail system will allow Savannah to attract large athletic events, such as marathons, while also connecting everyday residents to free, accessible outdoor recreation. The trails will foster public art, tree plantings and increased citizen interactions, which will strengthen community bonds and help to lower crime.
Over time, regular use of the trails will also help decrease obesity rates in the region, lowering public health costs for everyone.
Together, we can make greenways and trails accessible to all Americans, no matter their income level, race, ethnicity or ability. Everyone deserves the physical fitness, peace of mind and community connection that trail time provides.