MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Rails to Trails program developed by the city of Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune is an initiative to expand existing infrastructure to further connect the city and the base via a series of biking, walking and jogging trails.
“The idea to construct trails on [Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune] came from the installation and environmental office in 1995,” said Tony Sholar, the Marine Corps Base deputy public works officer when the idea started.
The project was formulated to expand recreational opportunities and provide safe commuting alternatives for those who live, work and train on base, according to the Greenway Master Plan.
Funding to build the trail came from several different places, including money received after the base won the Department of Defense’s Installation Excellence Award in 1998.
Also, when a new barracks is built on base, part of that funding is typically used to build a trail from the barracks to an existing part of the trail, he continued.
“As the base expands we try to expand the trails with it,” said Sholar.
Beside the expansions on Lejeune, base officials gave the deed to the section of railroad past the main gate to the city of Jacksonville so they could expand the trail off base, he continued.
“The railroad property from Highway 24 to Highway 17 was deeded to the city of Jacksonville through special legislation Aug. 29, 2003.
Railroad deliveries were discontinued for this section of railroad more than 10 years ago,” said Sholar.
Although work on the initial 5.2 mile asphalt trail began last winter at the intersection of Bell Fork Rd., and Lejeune Blvd., construction is expected to finish February 2008 and will provide more than 175 miles of trails for both local residents and Marines.
In order to keep the base secure as the trail expands off base; plans to modify the trail to force traffic to the visitors’ center will be put into operation within the next six months by the use of fences, said Scholar.
“We obviously don’t want people to think anyone can just come on base without being checked for identification,” he continued.