The grant now totals about $477,000 and includes a 20 percent local match, said Tom Sauret, Southeast regional director for the International Mountain Biking Association. The Alabama Department for Economic and Community Affairs awarded the grant, funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program.
All told, the mountain bike trail project has raised more than $600,000, estimated Mike Poe, who’s coordinating the effort for the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Club.
Construction should begin in earnest this fall after an impact assessment is completed, Sauret said. Beginner and intermediate trails might be completed by next spring.
“This will be really a genre-defining facility for mountain biking on the east coast,” Sauret said. “It doesn’t compare to anything … east of the Mississippi.”
It’ll take five to six years and about $2 million to complete the entire 50- to 60-mile trail system, Sauret said. Included in the system will be trails of all skill levels, including two gravity parks. The trails are being built on a 4,000-acre tract of land protected as part of the state’s Forever Wild land trust program. The program calls for the land to be open to the public for some kind of recreational use.
If 20 miles of trails are completed by 2013, Anniston could host the International Mountain Biking Association’s semi-annual regional meeting, Poe said. He spoke about the Coldwater Mountain project at this past weekend’s regional summit in Brevard, N.C.
“This is going to be important nationally and maybe even internationally – if we can raise the money,” Sauret said. “People will travel near and far to experience this.”
Star staff writer Jason Bacaj: 256-235-3546