The city of Auburn has hired a firm to finish the design work for the first phase of the Saugahatchee Blueway-Greenway project, which has been in motion since 2015.

Barge Design Solutions will be paid $93,000 for site layout, trail route planning and drainage and erosion control design, among other things.

The first phase will include a 0.9-mile greenway, about a 4-mile blueway down Saugahatchee Creek and canoe and kayak launch and takeout spots. Parking will also be included at the trailheads off North Donahue Drive and Richland Road.

According to materials from Barge Solutions, the canoe launch is proposed to be located near Donahue Drive and the takeout about 4.2 miles downstream near Richland Road. Restroom facilities and paved parking will be located near the launch, and unpaved parking and an access drive will be located near the takeout.

About 100 acres will be utilized in phase one.

The city had been working on designing the project since receiving all land easements and property donations needed in January 2018. Parks and Recreation Director Becky Richardson said that city engineers had started the design work in-house, but, to speed things up, needed some help.

"With all of the other demands, they were not making really fast progress on it so we decided to go ahead and contract out to finish the designs so we could get it out to bid," she said.

The City Council approved the design contract on Jan. 8. Richardson said she hopes to see the project completed this year or at least see construction mobilize.

Barge Solutions has allotted about 29 weeks for the design process, according to materials the company provided to the city.

The Villager first reported about the Saugahatchee Blueway-Greenway Project in 2015 after the Parks and Recreation Department had resurrected an idea from the early 2000s. The project is intended to bring more greenspace to north Auburn.

"The northern part of Auburn is not served nearly as well as other parts of the city," Richardson told The Villager. "We've got Town Creek (Park) in the middle of town; we've got the Shell Toomer greenway, which is south of town; and then we have quite a few off-road bike-ways where people can walk off at different places, but we really don't have anything on the north side of town, so I think this will be really popular."

Know of other areas in the city in need of greenways? The city is currently seeking input on greenway needs in the city for its Connect Auburn plan.

To give input, visit The website utilizes an interactive map where residents can click on specific areas to highlight a need as well as leave comments about those areas. Community members can view the submitted suggestions and "like" them, if they agree.

A plan for greenway and bikeway improvements will be finalized some time in 2019, according to the website.

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