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Quarter-mile Ocmulgee Heritage Trail expansion signals more growth for trail network

The eventual goal is to create a network of trails into downtown Macon and the surrounding neighborhoods.

MACON, Ga. — If you love the great outdoors, there's a new spot in Macon to check out.

A new section of trail at Amerson River Park is finally open after the April storms delayed the grand opening. The quarter-mile expansion is part of a series of additions to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. It's a collaboration between Macon-Bibb County and NewTown Macon.

"I live not too far from here in Ingleside neighborhood and I've got a couple places to walk," said Dave Buehrer as he walked the trail.

Buehrer is a transplanted Maconite. His wife just got a job at Mercer in January. A retired Valdosta State English professor himself, Buehrer prefers to spend his retirement outdoors.

"I usually walk to the end, kind of where the dock going down there is, and then I turn around and come back," Buehrer said. "It's a nice little extension."

One of his favorite walking routes: a new trail expansion at Amerson River Park.

"If you go to the north overlook, which is well signed from the entrance of the park, you'll start there. Just north of the overlook, you'll see the new section of concrete," said Josh Rogers, NewTown Macon's president.

The quarter-mile expansion was part of the original master plan for Amerson River Park, but there were some budget cuts.

"I'm just excited to check out what else is here," said Paloma Velasco, visiting with her boyfriend and sister. 

The last time they were there, the expansion was still under construction.

"It was just dirt road everywhere," she laughed. "We had to like, turn around and be like, 'Wait. I don't think this is done yet,' because it was our first time coming here."

Now that this section is finished, Rogers says to expect more.

"Some of the most ambitious projects that are on there include connecting Amerson River Park to Riverside Cemetery. That's about a 2-mile stretch and it goes through the current interstate construction project," Rogers said.

The eventual goal is to build a network of trails into downtown Macon and the surrounding neighborhoods. Rogers says there's about $40 million of proposed trail projects in the works. He says each mile costs about $1 million.

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