For years, local residents asked Holly Springs leaders when the town would complete the trail around Bass Lake.
Hank Dickson remembers being asked if it would be finished during his last term on the Holly Springs Town Council, which ended in 2009.
“They’d ask all the time,” said Dickson, who was elected again last fall. “Now, we can finally say the answer is yes.”
The Town Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to pay McQueen Construction $260,000 to build a 600-foot mulch walkway and a 50-foot pedestrian bridge over Basal Creek.
The project will bring the Bass Lake trail full circle.
“This thing has been such a long time coming,” said Councilman Jimmy Cobb, who likes to walk around the lake and bird-watch with his wife.
“It just makes sense that we open up the trail so that people can enjoy the entire lake,” he said. “I hope more people will take advantage of this new and improved recreational opportunity.”
The town expects construction on the trail to be completed in November.
The lake is already popular. It’s located south of the Sunset Ridge subdivision, one of the most populous in town. About 130,000 people visited the lake last year, according to Chris Phelan, an assistant at the park.
The trail opened in 2004 and is currently about 1.5 miles long. It winds southward around Bass Lake but stops at the northeast corner of the lake.
The incomplete trail became problematic as more people began to use it, according to Town Manager Chuck Simmons.
While most people turn around at the dead end, some don’t.
“Some people would just cut through the woods to the road and walk back (to the park entrance) on Bass Lake (Road),” Simmons said.
There’s no sidewalk on Bass Lake Road, which has a 45 mph speed limit.
“It really became a safety issue,” Mayor Dick Sears said.
Holly Springs began the process of extending the trail in 2009, Simmons said.
The town reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates certain lakes, to get permission to build over the wetlands.
But the permitting process took much longer than expected, Simmons said. The bridge required several permits, the last of which Holly Springs wasn’t granted until this year.