Faye DiMassimo, director of Cobb DOT, said resurfacing efforts began earlier this week on the 12.8- mile swath of trail that falls between the Paulding and Fulton county lines.
Although the roughly three months set aside for repaving span the trail’s typical peak season, DiMassimo said the science of surfacing prevents such work from being done at any other time.
“It’s occurring now because we have to,” DiMassimo explained. “When we’re doing resurfacing and dealing with asphalt, we have to have temperatures that are above 50 degrees and we have to have dry conditions. So this is the optimum time to do it, but we’re going in a very expedited manner.”
Rusty Simpson, a Cobb Parks Department official, said the trail hosts more than a million guests each year.
Most of them traverse the trail on bikes.
The resurfacing initiative is the third in a three-stage improvement effort set in motion by Cobb officials in 2012, when evaluations of what needed updating began.
DiMassimo said bridge replacement and grading and drainage repair took place over the winter months after Georgia DOT discovered three unsafe pedestrian bridges along the trail and decided to refurbish the area.
The $2.2 million required to improve the trail will come from SPLOST funds, DiMassimo said, with $1.6 million going toward resurfacing alone. The county is paying C.W. Matthews to do the work.
The Silver Comet was once an enhanced passenger line that ran along railroads constructed between 1890 and 1904, DiMassimo said.
In the late 1980s, CSX, the line’s administrator, abandoned the Silver Comet and pulled up its rails. DiMassimo said Georgia DOT acquired the discarded line from CSX and leased it to Cobb County, which constructed the trail in the late 1990s for $16 million.
Some of the bridges that inspired the restoration probably dated back to the rail line’s heyday, DiMassimo said.
The Silver Comet Trail begins in Smyrna at the Mavell Road trailhead and spans 61.5 miles, linking to Alabama’s Chief Ladiga trail near the state line at the Silver Comet’s conclusion.
DiMassimo said her department has taken steps to ensure the public knows what the repairs will mean for their summer plans.
“One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve had a really extensive communications program to let people know what’s going on and get the word out,” she said. “We know it’s been really effective because we’ve gotten phone calls and emails from all across the United States.”
According to the Cobb Parks Department, sections of trail measuring two to four miles each will be closed to all traffic during weekdays in order for workers to lay new pavement. The entire trail will be open on weekends and holidays.
Each segment will be completely finished and open for use before work on the next section begins, and Cobb officials estimate repairs on individual sections will take about three weeks each.
Silver Comet Trail Closings:
Section one between Mavell Road and Floyd Road is being worked on now through June 20
Section two between Floyd Road and Anderson Farm Road will be closed from Mon., June 23 to Fri., July 11
Section three between Anderson Farm Road and Old Lost Mountain Road will be closed from Mon., July 14 to Fri., August 1
Section four between Old Lost Mountain Road and the Paulding County line will be closed from Mon., August 4 to Fri., August 22