UPDATE 10/1/12 @ 10:10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- While the Kanawha River trestle isn't getting remade into a bike trail, Charleston City Council still has big plans for it.
During Monday night's meeting, council members redistributed grant money to a side project that will make biking in the city safer. The plan is to reduce the size of the traffic lanes on Kanawha Boulevard from Magic Island to Patrick Street.
Crews will use the new space to create a bike lane on the river side of the street.
The project is still in the planning phase. Construction could finish as early as next summer.
City Manager David Molgaard says the city will renovate the train trestle as soon as it gathers the funds.
After receiving an engineering report that evaluated the condition of the trestle and the work needed to transform it, the total bill climbed to $20 million. Officials only had about $4 million reserved for the project.
"We're at a point where we either need to spend the money we have on new projects or lose that money," city manager David Molgaard said.
At a city finance meeting Monday night, officials formally decided on a cause for $700,000 of that money. It will now go to the Florida Street Scape Project -- an effort to revamp sidewalks on the West Side.
Officials say they're in great need of repair, and neighbors like George Burkes agree.
"There's holes everywhere in these sidewalks," he said. "They need to do something with the West Side. It'll be a nice thing to clean up the streets, so they'll look nice here for our visitors in town."
But others say the money could be better spent.
"I think that money should be used to create some recreation centers to keep kids out of trouble," said neighbor William McCoy.
Officials say more of the money they put aside will go to rehabilitating Slack Plaza in the city.
As for those who looked forward to the trail, all hope is not lost -- if more funds come their way, officials say they're willing to revisit the idea.
Getting the money was just one step, and now there's more red tape to cut through.
“We don't really have a lot of pedestrian/bicycle dedicated trails within the city,” Charleston City Manager David Molgaard said.
City leaders in Charleston have had many talks about turning the former train trestle on the West Side into part of a walking and biking path. Several years and a few grants later, they have the money to pay for the project.
"Part of the grant funding that we have; the clock has started ticking on that. They've given us the notice to proceed," Molgaard said.
That means some of that money must be used by the end of next year. CSX has offered to sell the trestle for $25,000. The only problem is it's still listed as an active rail line.
“There will be some additional regulatory red tape that CSX may have to go through in terms of decommissioning that bridge as an active rail-line,” Molgaard said.
No trains have been over the trestle in decades. While some see it as an eyesore and would rather see it torn down, community leaders think those minds will be changed once the project is complete.
"Curiosity's gonna get them at first, so they'll go just to see what's going on. After that and they come to find that this is a good thing, then I think they'll use it a lot," the Rev. James Ealy with the New Covenant Community Center on the West Side said.
In the meantime, the city can continue with environmental and structural studies that need to be done before the trestle can be purchased.
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Federal funding has been released for the Kanawha Trestle Rail Trail project. The old tracks will turn into trails through the West Side and eventually to the East End and Kanawha City.
The paths will be open to walkers, bikers and even horses. More than $3 million dollars will go into the project. Organizers assure the community that the money won't be wasted.
"This trail isn't stopping any school from being built, not stopping any sewer water or road project," said Dennis Strawn with the Friends of the Kanawha Trestle Trail. "The federal government gives these moneys for these types of projects. It's up to the community to make these projects to bring that money to the community. If we don't do it, some other town will do it."
The main trestle trail should be complete in 2011.
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