Following devastating storm damage in November 2020, the Jonesville Greenway will soon receive significant repairs funded by federal disaster aid. In March, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the trail system a federal disaster. In recent weeks, FEMA officials toured the site and bids are now underway.
“The damage was extensive,” said Jonesville Town Manager Mike Pardue. “The area around Gregory Martin Park was under water, as was other portions of the trail downstream. Large amounts of debris, sediment and trash were left behind. Stream banks were severely damaged, and sections of the trail were completely destroyed.”
Repairs will not only restore the trail system to its previous condition (Pardue said the trail surface was previously so smooth he could walk comfortably on it barefoot), but preventative measures will also be implemented to make the trail and surrounding area more resilient to storms.
With significant volunteer and town efforts, the trails reopened in April this year, but erosion has left what hopefully will not be an indelible mark. Earlier this spring, the town planted more than 5,000 specialized plants to stabilize banks. The plants’ root systems are particularly suited for the task and hold up even during the dormant season. Species planted include silky willow, silky dogwood, black willow, ninebark, elderberry, and button bush. They can be spotted as wooden stakes along the trail.
Even with preventative measures taken, Pardue cautioned that floods and weather will threaten the trail system again and again due to its riverside location.
“Nothing’s 100% except death and taxes,” he quipped.
Pardue and town officials are determined to make changes along the trail system — a recreational jewel heavily promoted by the town — to help it weather future storms.
After FEMA’s recent visit, future plans are to:
-Remove and dispose of debris
-Re-establish or reroute destroyed areas of the trail with suitable fill and rock
-Reseed grass and repair banks along the Yadkin River
-Amend areas around bridges to prevent future erosion to protect structural integrity
Pardue said repairs will conducted in three phases: The first phase will be the trail head including Sgt. Gregory Martin Memorial Park. The second phase will be the preventative work around the four pedestrian bridge areas, and the third phase will be repairs to actual trail sections. Work will begin in August.
The greenway system is currently a 5-mile loop, but the town has big plans to expand the recreation area, adding two more bridges and linking it to a 154-acre nature tract with mountain bike trails and adding a dog park. Linking it to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and adding more playgrounds and restrooms are also sketched out.
The greenway recreation area plays heavily into the town’s long-term vision for attracting new business and residents.
“Greenways are connections between people and places,” Pardue said. “A greenway will attract higher quality private investment and more opportunities for our citizens.”
Lisa Michals may be reached at 336-448-4968 or follow her on Twitter @lisamichals3.