The Three Mile Creek Greenway Trail is a community amenity that provides access to one of Mobile’s most beautiful natural assets. For over 35-years, citizens, non-profits and government agencies have been envisioning a pedestrian and biking trail along Three Mile Creek. The City has organized an implementation plan, secured funding from multiple sources, and is undertaking design and construction of the greenway in phases.
What is the
Three Mile Creek Greenway?
Part of a long-term community vision
A system of shared paths, trailheads, sidewalks, and bike lanes
The first piece of the larger Mobile Greenway Initiative (MGI)
A safe place for all Mobilians to socialize, walk, run, play, learn, and enjoy the outdoors.
A catalyst for economic development
A transportation network that supports healthy living and recreation
A green infrastructure solution to improve water quality and the environmental health of the area
A common ground where all Mobilians can gather, exercise, play, and enjoy our natural areas.
Three Mile Creek is a thread that binds our community. Its watershed touches five of seven Mobile City Council Districts and portions of the City of Prichard. The Three Mile Creek Greenway is part of a plan to restore the health of the watershed and is the first major piece of a long-term Mobile Greenway Initiative (MGI). The Greenway will link neighborhoods, parks, commercial districts, and provide access to unique natural areas. When complete, the Greenway will be within 1-mile of 70,000 residents and have city-wide benefits related to the local economy, personal health, and the environment. It will be an amenity that will benefit all Mobilians.
Over the past several years, the City and its partners have collaborated with neighborhood groups, civic leaders, area stakeholders, and residents to develop a Three Mile Creek Greenway design. Feedback was gathered from the community at several public events.
Portions of the trail are already being enjoyed by area cyclists and walkers, while others have conceptual alignments and will be engineered when funds become available. Greenway design elements include; parking facilities, pavilions, bicycle repair stations, benches, pedestrian bridges, playgrounds, and more.
The Greenway is the product of decades of visioning, community input, and efforts of many supporters. It will have far-reaching community benefits. Hear why supporters think the Three Mile Creek Greenway is important to them.
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Health. The trail will support increased rates of physical activity and provide better access to green space, which studies have shown will lead to improved physical and mental health for the community and reduced healthcare spending. The Greenway would provide a recreational opportunity to the estimated 40% of Mobilians that currently do not meet recommended levels of physical activity.
Economic. Successful greenway trails have been shown to increase the values of adjacent property and lead to increased spending at nearby businesses. These direct impacts often bring new businesses, jobs, and development activity to the area. Comparable projects such as Greenville’s Swamp Rabbit Trail demonstrate the return on investment to residents, businesses, and the city.
Environmental. The Greenway Trail is part of a larger strategy to improve the watershed of Three Mile Creek. The City is coordinating with a variety of partners like Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and MAWSS to reduce pollutants in the waterway, restore natural stream channels, and maintain flood protection.
A boundary and drinking water source. Once serving as a boundary to the City’s development, Three Mile Creek was a healthy and constantly flowing water body. As early as 1814, the creek was a drinking water source and continued to be for over one hundred years. However, as urbanization in the area increased up to and following World War II, the 30-square-mile watershed became increasingly contaminated.
Early plans address flooding, watershed health and recreation. Following a series of flood events in the early 1980’s the Corps of Engineers developed a series of plans which included weirs, channel widening, a bypass channel, and an Open Space/Reuse Plan. The Open Space/Reuse Plan (1983) was a conceptual master plan for the development of open space. The objectives of the Plan included the preservation, development and reservation of open space in such a manner as to ensure an orderly pattern for the recreational development of the Three Mile Creek floodplain and to ensure the preservation of the natural, beneficial values of the floodplain.
A modern plan to transform the watershed. In 2014, the Three Mile Creek Watershed Management Plan was developed and released by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. Its development brought a robust team of partners together, including municipalities, state agencies, utilities, non-profits, and citizens. In 2015, it was endorsed by the Mobile City Council. The Plan “sets forth a course for action for transforming a degraded community liability into a waterway destination.” Objectives developed include restoration of natural channels and riparian buffers, pollution control and water quality standards initiatives, maintaining flood protection properties, identifying educational opportunities, and designing and implementing a trail project. The current Three Mile Creek Trail initiative is delivering one of those objectives.
Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, South Carolina
The Swamp Rabbit Trail opened in 2009 and is now one of the most popular recreational attractions in the Greenville Metro area. A 22-mile multiuse greenway, the Swamp Rabbit Trail system stretches from north of Traveler’s Rest through Greenville. It is used by over 500,000 people annually with 18-25% of those people being tourists.
The trail has had many benefits for the community. Ty Houck, Director of Greenways, explains, “This is a bigger system than just a trail.” For some Greenville County residents, it is a lifeline. To the 28% of Greenville residents who do not have a driver’s license, the trail opens opportunities for a quick bike ride or walk from home to community destinations.”
Real estate developers also view the trail as an opportunity. One current project is turning an old mill near the trail into a center for office space and local restaurants. The developer explains that people are looking for experiences and authenticity. “Now, instead of simply going on a bike ride, you have the option to bike to a brewery, to lunch, or for a cup of coffee.”
Chattanooga Riverwalk Greenway
Over 30 years ago a small section of multi-use trail opened on the south shore of the Tennessee River east of the core of downtown Chattanooga. It was one of the first visible steps in transforming the city’s downtown, The project continues to this day and is expected to be completed next fall, adding a 12-mile greenway to the 13-mile Riverwalk to create a 25-mile connected trail system. Over 150,000 visitors experience the greenway each year. The backbone of Chattanooga’s greenway and trail system-and one of the city’s most beloved outdoor spaces, the Tennessee Riverwalk runs through the heart of downtown and along a revitalized riverfront, offering scenic waterfront views to walkers and cyclists. The Riverwalk has been a boon for the local economy, according to city leaders and economists. The Riverwalk and revitalization of the surrounding area also led to developments in the area including Cameron Harbor.
Lafitte Greenway, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Lafitte Greenway is a 2.6-mile-long linear park and multi-use trail in the heart of New Orleans. The Greenway features recreational facilities, fitness and cultural programming, open green space, and innovative stormwater management features. Managed by New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORD), the Greenway opened in 2015 after years of community-driven support to turn a formerly abandoned railroad corridor into a public green space that connects an array of diverse New Orleans communities.
Katy Trail, Dallas, Texas
The 3.5-mile (5.6 km) Katy Trail in central Dallas connects about 20 neighborhoods with the central business district, the American Airlines Center events complex, and Southern Methodist University. The trail is located in one of the most urbanized areas in Dallas, people have chosen to move to the area specifically to be near it. Access to the trail, which serves some 15,000 people each week, is so coveted that Matt Segrest, president of Dallas apartment developer Alamo Manhattan, was quoted in the Dallas Morning News as saying that homes along the trail are like “oceanfront property for Dallas.”
John F. Crawford, chief executive officer of Downtown Dallas, the principal champion and steward of downtown, describes the importance of parks and greenways this way: “They’re not just one-off projects. They’re part of a bigger vision of connectivity, mobility, and livability. They have allowed us to develop a live/work/play environment like other cities have.”
The City has organized an implementation plan, is working to secure funding from multiple sources, and is undertaking design and construction of the greenway trail in phases.
Recently released Restore Act funding is allowing the City to move forward with design and construction of three segments of the greenway.
The City is currently completing one segment of design plans with the consultants made possible through an ALDOT Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant. This trail segment will extend the current trail over half a mile and the design included feedback from the citizens, neighbors and surrounding businesses. The construction bidding for this phase, from the existing trail at Tricentennial Park to University Hospital, will be released by the end of 2020. The actual construction for this segment is expected to be completed by the middle of 2021.
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Who is involved?
The Greenway Trail is being implemented by the Program and Project Management department which includes a cross-functional team within the City of Mobile. This team includes planners, scientists, engineers, landscape architects and construction experts. A variety of citizens, local non-profits, businesses and other City leadership support the project in planning, outreach and the project execution process. In addition, the City of Mobile has a variety of contractors with expertise in different phases of the project supporting them. Dix-Hite, a landscape architecture firm, has been collaborating on the design phase of the project since 2018.
1. How is the Greenway Trail being funded? (initially and long-term?)
In July 2012, the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) established the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. The RESTORE Act dedicates 80 percent of all administrative and civil penalties related to the Deepwater Horizon spill to a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and outlines a structure by which the funds can be utilized to restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands, and economy of the Gulf Coast region. The design and initial construction of the Trail project is one of the Alabama projects funded by the RESTORE Act Bucket 1 allocations, which are specifically for these types of projects. Additional funding has come from AL Department of Transportation, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the City of Mobile Capital Improvement Fund.
2. How will the trail system be maintained?
The Trail will be maintained by the City of Mobile and citizen groups.
3. How will concerns about safety be addressed?
Public safety associated with the trail is a primary initiative for the City of Mobile. Together with the Mobile Police Department and Mobile Fire-Rescue, we are creating a comprehensive Three Mile Creek Greenway Trail Safety Plan for the trail, including non-motorized patrols, networked cameras, and lighting. This plan will result in a safe and controlled trail for our entire community.
4. Will all existing parks around the Creek be connected to the trail?
While the ultimate vision is to connect all parks along the creek, the current plans will link Bush Park, Mill Street Park, and Tricentennial Park. But, due to engineering or land access limitations, those current planned segments will not connect parks such as Mclean Park.
5. Is the trail built on public land only?
Yes, the trail is built on City-owned property or where we have sought easements from landowners.
This project was paid for [in part] with federal funding from the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Treasury.