North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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April 12, 2013

Vehicles putting walkers in danger on trail

FULTONDALE — Fultondale officials are proud of their recently-completed walking track, but said some people are ruining it for everyone else.

The 3.5-mile track is Fultondale’s portion of a large Rails to Trails project, where cities are trying to convert old railroad beds into walking trails. When it is completed, there will be a continuous 27-mile trail, according to Fultondale Parks and Recreation Director Phillip Loden.

Loden said numerous people are enjoying the track, which was built for foot traffic and bicycles only.

However, motorized vehicles have been illegally using the track, which Loden said puts others in danger.

“We know several four-wheelers have been on the track, doing doughnuts and knocking down signs,” Lodens said. And one morning, two runners had to leap off the track to avoid getting hit by an SUV that was headed straight for them.

“It’s dangerous for them to be on the trail,” Loden said. “There are plenty of other trails in the city for four-wheelers to use.”

Barriers at the track entrance are meant to keep vehicles off the path, but Loden said people have been simply pulling them up and wreaking havoc on the new trail.

That will change next week, however, when the city will install gates at the entrances.

Loden said the city has spent $7,000 on gravel for the trail, which stretches from Black Creek Park to Shady Grove Road. He added that crews have had to replace gravel several times after it was strewn by four-wheelers.

Loden said that if the city catches motorized vehicles on the trail, the drivers will be ticketed and fined for trespassing, endangerment and destruction of property.

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