36-mile trail for cyclists, hikers, horseback riders
FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 13, 2015) — Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the awarding of two contracts for the final phases of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail in Eastern Kentucky—soon to be the longest trail of its kind in the commonwealth.
One of the contracts awarded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is for the third and final phase—construction of 9 miles of trail from Carver Tunnel in Magoffin County to a point 1 mile south of Evanston in Breathitt County. Hinkle Environmental Services LLC was awarded the contract on a low bid of $1.71 million.
Also awarded was a contract for rehabilitation of the Carver Tunnel, located at the Breathitt-Magoffin county line. The project includes lighting for the tunnel, which is 0.7 mile in length. Sak Construction LLC was awarded the contract on a low bid of $5.96 million.
Both projects are scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2016. Once complete, the trail will run for 36 miles through Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt counties.
“These contracts are huge for Eastern Kentucky, and we are excited for the transformation of these unused rail lines,” Sen. Brandon Smith, of Hazard, said. “As we anxiously await the completion of a great new SOAR tourist attraction, we would like to thank all those who worked hard to make this project possible.”
State funding for the property was initially provided by the 2006 General Assembly. The purchase of the property from the R.J. Corman Railroad Group was finalized in 2011.
The first section of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, stretching 18 miles from Hagerhill in Johnson County to Royalton in Magoffin County, opened to hikers, cyclists and horseback riders in summer 2013. The section features 24 trestles and the 662-foot-long Gun Creek Tunnel.
The second phase of the project, which is near completion, extended the trail for another 9 miles from Royalton to near the Carver Tunnel. Phase II included trailhead amenities such as restrooms, landscaping, benches, water fountains for people and their horses, hitching posts, mounting blocks and small corrals near Hagerhill and Royalton.
The trail follows the old Dawkins Line railroad bed, which runs from Hagerhill to Evanston. The trail name comes from the Dawkins Lumber Co., which developed the rail line in the early 1900s for timber harvesting and transportation.
Its conversion to a rail trail is being undertaken by KYTC, the Finance and Administration Cabinet and the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The trail is managed by the Kentucky Department of Parks.
The Dawkins Line is modeled after another successful rails-to-trails project in southwestern Virginia – the 34-mile-long Virginia Creeper Trail, which draws more than 200,000 visitors a year and has led to new businesses with a positive economic impact.