Jekyll bike path gets OK
The Brunswick News
August 18, 2012

Some Jekyll Island residents and environmental activists spoke out Friday against a planned bike path through marshlands on the island state park, but failed to convince the state Department of Natural Resources that it is a bad idea.

After hearing their concerns, the Coastal Marshland Committee of the DNR approved an application by the Jekyll Island Authority to construct bridges over marsh. Four bridges will be constructed and one existing bridge will be repaired.

Plans call for bike paths in the historic district to be linked to trails on the north end of the island and to stretch to Ben Fortson Parkway, extending the island's 25 miles of bike paths.

The construction is part of a project that will ultimately link all bike paths on the island and to the Coastal Georgia Greenway Trail, a 155-mile bike and walking path that eventually will connect Georgia's six coastal counties.

Mindy Egan, a Jekyll Island resident and cofounder of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island that had opposed plans for commercial redevelopment on the island, proposed an alternative path that would link into existing trails. Egan said she is satisfied with the northern portion of the proposed trail but believes there is a better way to connect the island's southern paths.

As an alternative, a new path could be constructed between Riverview Drive and the historic district and connect to an existing path that runs through the maritime forest ending at Flash Foods on Ben Forston Parkway, Egan said. The path could then extend to the Downing Musgrove Causeway and connect onto the Greenway trail.

"The Georgia Coastal Greenway Project would not be affected," Egan said. "This involves zero impact to the marsh."

But that path doesn't allow bikers to experience the marsh, said Jim Morrison, a McIntosh County resident who says he enjoys Jekyll's bike paths. "The best way to see the marsh is from a walkway," he said.
Environmentalists also expressed concern about potential damage to marsh habitats.

Dave Kyler, director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, asked the committee to consider alternative routes that would not include marsh. "When you look at a project (under the Marshland Protection Act) you're supposed to consider alternatives," Kyler said.

Daniel Parshley, project manager for the Glynn Environmental Coalition, agreed that the committee should look at another route. He said construction through the marsh is an environmental hazard, and a safety hazard, as well. The planned bridges will be wooden and potentially slippery when wet.

"This trail will be dangerous," Parshley said. "People will fall on the trail, because it's going to get slippery."
Supporters of the Greenway Trail said they believe the project is essential.

"It will become a new destination activity where distance bikers can come to Jekyll Island and use the paths there," said Jo Hickson, a board member of the Georgia Coastal Greenway Project.