Over the past decade, Birmingham has made remarkable strides in developing new green spaces. The Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System allows us the chance to connect our existing parks into a greater network of greenways, making our communities healthier and safer. Each mile of greenway creates an environment where healthy choices become easy choices, and people are able to become reconnected with the outdoors.
Each mile of the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System is as unique as the neighborhoods that connect it. It is our goal to create positive impacts for the physical, economic, environmental, and social well-being of the Birmingham Region, one mile at a time. Together, we can create a healthier, more connected community for everyone.
What is the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System?
The 750-mile system is a network of multi-use trails (useable by walkers, joggers, cyclists, etc), sidewalks, and bike lanes linking people and communities throughout Jefferson County. Some of the trails already exist, such as the six-mile Shades Creek Greenway that parallels Lakeshore Drive in Homewood, or Vulcan Trail which runs along an abandoned railroad bed atop Red Mountain overlooking downtown Birmingham. Other facilities are currently underway, including the new Civil Rights Trail that includes bike lanes, sidewalks, and a 1-mile trail in the Smithfield community of Birmingham. Other projects, such as the Rotary Trail and the High Ore Line Trail, are scheduled to be built soon. The Red Rock Trail System is a vision for ensuring every resident within Jefferson County has a trail that they can call their own.
Where exactly is the Red Rock Trail System?
The Red Rock System contains six primary trails that connect the region together. The trails primarily follow the area’s waterways, including Shades Creek, Five-Mile Creek, Turkey Creek, Village Creek, Valley Creek, and the Cahaba River. Sidewalks and bike lanes are designed to stretch into communities and neighborhoods and improve access to these main trails. Once complete, everyone within Jefferson County will have access to a safe trail in their community.
When is all of this supposed to be complete?
Building a 750-mile trail system that spans over 30 municipalities simply takes time. Planning and engineering has to take place, right-of-way has to be acquired, and utilities often have to be relocated. Then, funding for construction has to be identified. It’s a process. However, several miles of trails were built in the past year, and additional miles are scheduled to be complete in the next few years. Other connections are funded and are in various stages of the process mentioned earlier. So, even though the full system might take some time to build, new trails are coming soon.
Why is this important? Why should I care?
Trails change communities. For starters, let’s look at the health benefits. Two out of every three Alabama residents are overweight or obese, resulting in millions of dollars in health care costs related to preventable obesity-related illnesses. Research has shown that people who have access to a safe, accessible place to exercise are over 50% more likely to do so. A UAB study found that implementation of the Red Rock Trail system would result in up to $42 million in health care savings annually. Studies have also shown that trails increase adjacent property values and bring revenue into cities. They also provide opportunities for social interaction that are among the core components to a vibrant community. Trails can also provide transportation options, mitigate flooding near bodies of water, and even reduce crime.
Who all is involved in the Red Rock Trail System?
The Red Rock Trail System was developed by first listening to the community. Over 3,000 people provided feedback about the trails, sidewalks, and bike lanes that will make their communities safer for everyone. That information was shared with city leaders to ensure the trails were included in local transportation and development plans. Efforts to build more trails are currently coordinated by the Freshwater Land Trust, in coordination with community members, city officials and staff from all of the municipalities within Jefferson County, and partner organizations that recognize the value provided by trails.
How is the Red Rock System being built?
Funds to build trails often come from transportation funding sources at the federal, state, and local levels. These funds are typically focused on relieving congestion, providing alternative means of transportation than an individual automobile, or providing safe access to schools or bus stops. Private funding, either from organizations, foundations, or individuals may also be used to construct trails.
Touring Your Town: Red Rock Tuesdays
On the first Tuesday of every month, the Freshwater Land Trust and Fox 6’s Good Day Alabama with Jeh Jeh Pruitt visit a town in Jefferson County to walk their portion of the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System in an effort to educate our community on where they can get out and active. Each month, we talk about the health, economic and environmental benefits of parks and trails throughout Jefferson County with our partners, as well as feature special giveaways and announcements about upcoming projects. Tune in to Red Rock Tuesday every first Tuesday of the month to stay updated and learn more about how you can connect to this effort.
Goodwyn Mills and Cawood
Goodwyn Mills and Cawood (GMC)was hired in August of 2010 to help the Freshwater Land Trust create a greenways master plan for Jefferson County. GMC has experience developing greenways across the state including Chief Ladiga in east Alabama, Aldridge Creek, Indian Creek and Big Cove Greenways in Huntsville, Aqueduct Trail in Tarrant, the Polly Reed Road Trail in Center Point and the downtown trail in Eufala.