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Decatur awarded USDOT grant to connect city, Singing River Trail

DECATUR – The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the City of Decatur more than $18.4 million in federal funds for the Dr. Bill Sims Hike-Bike Way on the Singing River Trail, Mayor Tab Bowling announced. 

This funding, provided from the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, is designed to connect Decatur’s Old Town community with stores, shops, and the riverfront. The total funding made available amounts is $18,407,687.76. 

“This is a great day for Decatur,” said Bowling. “This funding will connect our parks and riverfront, as well as some of Decatur’s oldest neighborhoods to provide a safe and attractive route for recreation and everyday use. We are blessed with vibrant communities and natural amenities, and connecting the two with a project that all our residents can use and enjoy just makes sense. We are very pleased that the federal government agreed with our vision and is making this project a reality. 

“Beyond that, this is another sign that Decatur is headed in the right direction and is a good place to invest, live, and visit. Between today’s announcement and other recent major project announcements, the future is bright in our city.” 

The funding is aimed at reconnecting communities that were cut off by transportation infrastructure decades ago, leaving entire neighborhoods without direct access to opportunity, like schools, jobs, medical offices, and places of worship.

“While the purpose of transportation is to connect, in too many communities past infrastructure decisions have served instead to divide. Now the Biden-Harris administration is acting to fix that,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today we are proud to announce an unprecedented $3.3 billion to help 132 communities deliver better infrastructure that reconnects residents to jobs, health care, and other essentials.”

The project area is within the Decatur city limits on the south side of the Tennessee River. The route is 9.4 miles long, extending from Point Mallard Park to Benjamin Davis Elementary School in Northwest Decatur. The project adds new safety enhancements to the Bill Sims Trail while extending it into Old Town Decatur for the first time.

“Decatur’s commitment to regional collaboration, connectivity, and opportunity building, along with its partnership with the Singing River Trail, made for a strong Reconnecting Communities & Neighborhoods Grant,” said Dr. John F. Kvach, executive director of the Singing River Trail. “This $18.4 million win for Decatur will serve as a beacon for possibilities in all of our communities along the 225-plus miles of the Singing River Trail,”

The project increases access to parks and commercial redevelopment along the Tennessee River and creates safer and more connected walking and bicycling facilities in Old Town and along the riverfront.

Notably, the project will provide for safe pedestrian and bike access across both Highway 20 and the rail line. It also serves as a key section of the Singing River Trail, which will run from Huntsville to Athens.

“We were proud to partner alongside the Singing River Trail and Dr. Bill Sims to bring enhancements to the already established trail while also connecting the Old Town District.” said Danielle Gibson, president and CEO of Morgan County Tourism. “We formed a community committee whose thoughts and input were invaluable. Thank you to the City of Decatur, our Board of Directors, and the Hospitality Association for working alongside us to submit this grant. Their dedication and collaboration have been instrumental in advancing our mission to foster community resilience and connectivity.

“Together, we look forward to realizing the transformative impact of this grant on our shared vision for a stronger, more vibrant community.”

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