Wouldn’t it be great if a family with people of all ages, young to old, could go for a scenic walk surrounded by the natural beauty of the Smokies? Unfortunately, the unevenness of most mountain trails make it impossible for such events to occur. However, the Maryville-to-Townsend Greenway aims to make that possible.
Due to run for more than 14 miles once fully constructed, it is part of a much larger overall plan to make it possible to travel from Knoxville, TN to the Smokies!
Currently, the plans exist as a two-part program, and include connecting with the existing Maryville-Alcoa Greenway that is already a tremendous success. The first phase of the project is the Maryville to Heritage High School portion of the trail. After that is complete, the trail will extend beyond the Heritage High School area and to Townsend – eventually connecting the town of Maryville to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Yes, residents and visitors may soon find themselves walking into the parklands!
What land is to be used to make the route? As is the case with so many other greenways and walkways in the United States, this one is going to use an abandoned rail line that runs along Highway 321.
While the reasoning for a project of this kind seems fairly obvious – to allow everyone of any level of fitness or any age to get outdoors and enjoy this amazingly beautiful part of the world – there is more to it.
For one thing, there is bound to be a financial return on the investment. Millions of travelers head into the park every year, and just as many drive the different roadways and visit the many towns of the region. Many will make a point of also using the Greenway to experience the natural beauty of the Smokies. In fact, this is such an expected outcome of the project that there is an “estimated fiscal benefit to Blount County [of] $65 million over 10 years.” In other words, for any dollar spent on upkeep and construction, there is going to be roughly $2.66 ROI.
It is also a rare and wonderful way to unite the communities, ensuring that they are each connected one to the other thanks to the Greenway. Not only is this important in terms of the impact on the community, but “walkability” is such a significant factor in real estate purchases that roughly half of all homebuyers consider this when choosing a place to live.
The Blount County Chamber of Commerce also notes these fascinating statistics about the presence of trails in a community:
- “A National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Buyers joint survey listed trails as the second most important consideration for community amenities by home buyers.
- Homeowners will pay $9,000 premium on houses within 1,000 feet of bike paths.”
The Blount Chamber is committed to positive community and business growth, and the impact of the Greenway is impossible to ignore. To see a schedule of events meant to support the Greenway effort, visit the Greenway Page at their website and learn what you can do to help.