CHATHAM CO., Ga. (WTOC) - Repairs on a historic trail in Chatham County are taking longer than expected. The McQueen’s Trail runs alongside Highway 80 as you’re driving to Tybee Island. The original project converted the original railroad tracks to Tybee Island with a trail.
It’s six-miles long, stretching from Fort Pulaski to the Bull River. Chatham County staff planned on reopening the trail last month, but that didn’t happen.
It could be open as early as January, but because the trail runs along water, the weather and tides are making repairs difficult. Two hurricanes and general tide damage eroded the trail to where it was unsafe. Crews started work on the popular trail earlier this year. Mother nature is making the project a difficult one.
"This is unlike any other construction project we have in the county where we’re out there to do repairs, and literally while we are out there doing repairs, more damage is occurring,” Jefferson Kirkland said.
Kirkland is the environmental program coordinator for Chatham County. He said when high tides come in, crews can’t work in certain areas, putting repairs on hold.
"What we're trying to do is protect that trail from the monthly spring tide which is what is really killing it,” Kirkland said. “We want to get it high enough to where it doesn't get over washed except during the very worst spring tides and also prevent that wave action from slowly eating away at the trail."
Rising water eats away at the soil and rocks. Over time, sections of the trail break down and wash away. In order to stop that natural process, crews are putting in a bulkhead, or a wall, to keep the tide from eroding the trail.
"The original wall that we built withstood two hurricanes with minor damage and we’re building a similar structure, we beefed it up a little bit just to ensure the money we’re spending today is going to be there decades to come,” Kirkland said.
So far, repairs have cost about $1.2 million; that total could increase if more work needs to be done.