And while there is, in fact, an existing Michelle Obama Trail in DeKalb, these things do tend to grow.
“It was more political than anything else,” longtime county Commissioner Larry Johnson, who has championed the project, said of the backlash. “Who would be against a walking trail that’s gonna help citizens?”
The original 3.8-mile stretch of the trail, which connects Georgia State University’s Clarkston campus to Gresham Park, was unveiled in 2018. A 2.2-mile extension opened in 2021.
The federal money, then, would go toward yet another extension — this one covering the 4.5 miles from Waldrop Road east to Martin Luther King Jr. High School. From there it would join up with another piece of existing trail that stretches all the way to the Arabia Mountain PATH in Stonecrest.
(On the opposite side of the trail, the plan is to connect to other existing projects that will ultimately tie into the Atlanta Beltline. That will involve passing through a proposed Michelle Obama Park, the land for which DeKalb County obtained in a controversial land swap with a local movie studio founder. The process has also been complicated by activists protesting the nearby construction of Atlanta’s proposed public safety training center.)
All told, DeKalb residents are looking at nearly 22 miles of trail connectivity, Commissioner Johnson said.
“We’re gonna be able to have one of the most extensive trails” in metro Atlanta, he said. He hopes construction on the latest extension can start later this year.
For his part, Congressman Johnson wrote in a recent tweet that he was “proud to secure funding for critical projects” like the Obama trail extension.
“I will continue to fight for GA-04, to ensure we get the funding we need,” he wrote.