DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - The College of Osteopathic Medicine officially opened its bike and walking trail - bringing the action in the city a little closer to students.
“It’s been a long time to bring it to fruition, but it’s a finished project now,” said ACOM Dean and Senior Vice-President Craig Lenz.
The project has been in the works for about three years. The roughly one-mile trail starts near the ACOM campus on Cat Way and continues along Highway 84 toward Ross Clark Circle. The school pushed to get the trail to promote healthy living.
“We think it will increase the health and wellness in the community if we can start getting people walking and biking instead of having them riding in cars," said Lenz.
Freshman Alex Lalisan said the trail provides a mental health break for students between studying. Before officially opening Thursday, students had access to it for about a month.
“Take a study break. Hop out here, so we just walk it during the day. I say I use it about two to three times a week,”said Lalisan.
Beyond the health benefits, the city and school says the trail also connects the students to developments popping up on the east side.
They hope the investment in the trail will attract more development in the area.
“As it gets more and more used, it will prompt more and more economic development,” said Lenz.
“We’re talking millions of dollars between this and what’s going on in the trail - even what the city of Dothan is doing with the decorative lighting out here,” said City of Dothan Public Works Director Charles Metzger. “It’s millions of dollars of investments on the east side.”
Metzger confirmed there are already plans for apartments and medical services to come in the area.
Right now, the trail stops short of connecting all the way to Dothan’s downtown but it’s a goal the city is working toward.
“We want to continue this into downtown. To continue this trail or get bike and pedestrians where they can travel into downtown safely and help our downtown grow,”said Metzger.
Metzger doesn’t have a timeline for a trail extension, but says they are working through details to make that happen.
The trail was funded through a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation and the city. ALDOT’s Transportation Alternative Grant was for $400,000. The city contributed $150,000. The initial estimates for the project were about $595,000, but Metzger says the project came out about $50,000 under budget.