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Project Name: Eureka Trail Athens Trailhead Improvements

Project Location: Athens, Tennessee


The Eureka Trail, which follows the path of a former rail line and connects the City of Athens and the Town of Englewood in Tennessee, is a gravel-filled multi-use recreational trail enjoyed by walkers, runners, bikers, and equestrians. The Eureka Trail was part of a grant-funded initiative set out to make healthy living accessible to all community members.

The trail not only provides a safe route for exercise, but the Health Triangle—a convenient half-mile section of the trail—includes educational signs on how to live a healthier lifestyle. The Health Triangle also accommodates people with disabilities and those easing into a new fitness routine.

The Challenge

Improvements to the Athens Trailhead required the construction of a new parking lot and an extension of the existing Eureka Trail. Stormwater runoff was a concern for the engineers as the paved drive aisles and upstream parking spaces would introduce impervious surfaces that could not store and filter the water.

While stormwater management was a key concern, the engineers also considered the vehicular loading requirements and long-term performance of the parking area. A paved-surface parking area would have required an additional detention pond, but there was no room for that in the plans. To eliminate this need, a permeable surface was necessary.

The GEOPAVE® Gravel Porous Pavers Provide Load Support & a Stormwater Management Solution

Senior Landscape Architect Daniel Boutté (Lose Design) chose the GEOPAVE® Gravel Pavers to meet stormwater requirements while supporting everyday traffic from vehicles. The GEOPAVE pavers promote a high rate of percolation, limit runoff, and perform as a natural on-site retention system. The system’s herringbone cells and integrated mesh bottom keeps aggregate in place even under heavy traffic use.

Wilson Construction installed 5,500 square feet of the GEOPAVE pavers in the downstream parking stalls to collect runoff from the paved drive aisles and upstream parking stalls. Structurally, the GEOPAVE system required only 4 inches of base to carry the required loads, but Lose Design added an additional 18 inches of 3-inch stone below the #57 stone base, which allowed for storage and stormwater infiltration. An underdrain was also included in the cross-section to allow excess water from peak flow events to be released to a grass swale for further treatment.

The inclusion of 250 yellow GEOPAVE SNAP Delineators helped demarcate parking spaces to maximize the use of the parking lot. The SNAP Delineators easily snap into place to mark parking spaces, drive lanes, center lines, and handicapped areas.

Cost-Saving Benefits & Project Results

Original plans called for the use of traditional concrete pavers across the entire parking lot, which would have put the project on track for substantial budget overruns. Fortunately, installation of the GEOPAVE system allowed the project to stay within its original budget due to the system’s ability to accommodate vehicular loading requirements as well as provide necessary on-site stormwater management.

According to public officials, since opening in November of 2020, the new parking lot has received numerous compliments from citizens from across the country. “We regularly draw users from across the southeast and people have taken time to compliment the geogrid system and to ask a lot of questions,” said Austin Fesmire, Director of Parks and Recreation and project manager. “When selecting the system, I felt it not only met our requirements for drainage, but it also met our aesthetic requirements relating to such a high-profile area.”

Located at 1400 East Madison Avenue in Athens, TN the Athens Trailhead is a private, local, state, and federally funded project.