After months of delays due mostly to the weather, the final section of the old Tinsley Park trail received a fresh layer of asphalt last Thursday, May 31. With the exception of a few cleanup and cosmetic items, the 1.17-mile section between Raider Drive and Tinsley Park is complete, allowing for an uninterrupted four-mile walk, run or ride between Mohawk Drive and Willow Street.
The Phase 5 journey started more than five years ago when a grant was submitted by local officials to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The nearly half-million-dollar grant was received in August 2008. That was followed by years of permitting, right of way acquisition, bidding and other preparations. Finally, last summer a contractor was secured and in June a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Greenway entrance at Raider Drive.
The infamous torrential rain events of last September derailed the completion of the Greenway, forcing the project into winter and making progress virtually impossible for months. The rain washed away several weeks of work, particularly at the Raider Drive underpass.
It is appropriate that the piece that ties the existing two north and south portions of the Greenway together is Tinsley Park. This phase of the Greenway has given an upgrade and facelift to the Tinsley trail which has been part of our community and enjoyed since the 1970s. It now has improved drainage, a wider and paved path, and significantly more lighting. Because of the new surface, the path can be opened to bicycles and baby strollers as well.
Long-overdue improvements to the Tinsley playground, restroom and water fountain, just off the trail, were completed within the last month. While the Greenway and the park improvements are not connected as far as funding and grants are concerned, the timing could not be better.
The new and improved Tinsley Park playground and its parking area now serve as an additional trailhead, or launching point, for the Greenway. Besides the obvious new connections, where Phase 5 joins with Phase 2 at Raider Drive and with Phase 4 at the pedestrian bridge behind the Tinsley ball fields, there are also two new entrances. One is behind the Spring Creek shopping plaza on Keith Street, and another connects the Northwood subdivision. Now the dozens of families in that neighborhood can jump on the Greenway without driving or having to cross any busy streets.
Although I have been on Phase 5 dozens of times before, I couldn’t wait to be the first to traverse the entirety of it once it was completed. So last Thursday I made a deal with Jonathan Cantrell of Caldwell Paving, and he gave me the green light when the asphalt was cool enough that it wouldn’t melt the soles of my shoes!
I invite you to take a stroll, run or bike ride on our Greenway’s newest section. If you’re up to it, go one step further by starting at either the northern terminus at Mohawk Drive or the southern entrance point of Willow Street to experience four miles of unbroken Greenway “bliss.”