Exclusive: Our One Mile releases details of plan


Imagine entering a greenway trail at Birmingham's popular Railroad Park and having the option to safely bike or run north to Vulcan Park, east to Ruffner Mountain or south and west to Red Mountain Park.

A new plan moves these trails and community connections in Jefferson County closer to reality.

Organizers of the Our One Mile campaign plan to unveil a Greenway Master Plan today at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

It's a year-in-the-making strategy spearheaded by the Fresh Water Land Trust and funded by the Jefferson Co. Public Health Department through a federal stimulus grant. More than 3,000 people offered their "one mile" for the project. It sets the stage for connecting existing parks and neighborhoods with new green spaces countywide.

"The great thing about this plan is the detail," says Wendy Jackson, executive director of Fresh Water Land Trust.

The six corridors follow existing water ways in Jefferson County with the Jones Valley Corridor providing the anchor to the system. Other corridors include Village Creek, Five Mile Creek, Shades Creek, Cahaba River and Turkey Creek with a proposed Northern Beltine Corridor planned for the future.

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A MyFoxAl exclusive look at the Jones Valley Corridor shows the trail connecting Ruffner Mountain in the east to Bessemer in the west. Jackson calls it the "spine" of the master plan. Once completed, the main route and connectors will total 160 miles for Jones Valley alone.

The idea is to make communities healthier, safer and more connected. Organizers believe "each mile of greenway creates an environment where healthy choices become easy choices."

Artist renderings show the 1st Avenue South Cut which will feature trails for biking and walking/running. A 35th Street Bridge drawing offers another idea, taking existing roadways and reserving space for cyclists. Each corridor will have a unique trailhead logo and theme.

Jackson says many cities in the county already have plans to expand greenway systems, Our One Mile coordinates those plans into a system of trails and connectors. Cities will provide funding, often turning to federal funding as well as the possibility of public and private grants.

Jefferson County Chief Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson says it's a critical "just being able to get to a greenway system trail and exercise where it's convenient, but also the idea of connecting a community is very important."

The name of the greenway system will be announced during tonight's event.

Doors open tonight at 5 p.m. at the Our One Mile reveal at the Birmingham Museum of Art Steiner Auditorium.

For a slideshow of images from the plan, click here: http://northeastbham.myfoxal.com/photo-gallery/environment/106513-exclusive-our-one-mile-releases-details-plan.