Saluda Shoals Park greenway nearing completion after reconstruction project

By Natalie Szrajer
Posted 6/1/23

The longest trail in the Saluda Shoals Park is set to reopen by the end of next month.

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Saluda Shoals Park greenway nearing completion after reconstruction project


The longest trail in the Saluda Shoals Park is set to reopen by the end of next month.

The Greenway trail in the park, which is a part of the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commision, has been under construction since September 2022.

“The City of Columbia had to do sewer line improvements so we had to remove one mile of the trail. The trail has been shut down for about a year,” said Jay Downs, the commission’s superintendent of operations and facilities.

He explained that there had been sewer spillage, and it wasn’t meeting the capacity the park needed.

In addition to the concrete trail being shut down, the lower boat landing into the Saluda River was affected for a brief time period. Thepopular  annual Holiday Lights on the River display was also impacted, altering the way the lights are set up.

The trail restoration project within the park cost the City of Columbia a little more than $200,000, with the park working closely with the city, Downs said. He added that they worked well together, allowing canoe and kayak rentals to resume as quickly as possible.

“This was a significant project in the park,” Downs said.

While the trail renovation was a Columbia city project, it was overseen by engineering firm Brown and Caldwell.

Downs acknowledged that the restoration work was an inconvenience to park members and park attendees, but he said they’d looked at ways to make the trail better and bigger for people to use once it’s completely finished. 

The trail will remain a concrete trail, but will widen from eight feet to 12 feet. Other additional improvements include elevating parts of the trail to prevent flooding, replacing sewer manholes and improving drainage.

Downs said the trail will be bike-, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly as well as friendly for strollers and wheelchairs. 

“They’re pouring about 800 feet of concrete a week,” Downs said. “About 5,000 feet of concrete is being put back [into the trail]. It’ll be smoothed out for bikes.”

To do the trail work, trees did have to be taken down within the easement, but there will be tree restoration done by the access ramps and they will regrade and re-grass where needed, Downs continued. 

“There will be less shade for now,” he said.

They’re also eyeing other improvements, Downs said, noting that they’re looking at adding art to manhole covers and at different spots along the trail, including rest stops.

“We are talking with the City of Columbia about other art possibilities,” Downs said. “A lot of people dreaded [the trail being down] but we looked at the improvements as a way to make it better.”

The Greenway trail in the park will eventually connect to the Lower Saluda Greenway Project, which is set to connect the Johnny W. Jeffcoat Walkway at the Lake Murray Dam and continue for 10.5 miles past the Riverbanks Zoo to the Sanctuary at Boyd Island. If the River Alliance’s plans for the unified Three Rivers Greenway come to fruition, a proposed bridge across the Congaree River would eventually connect the end of the Saluda Riverwalk to the riverwalk along the Columbia Canal in Columbia’s Riverfront Park and on to West Columbia and Cayce.  

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