Analyzing the Impact of the Firefly Trail on Economic Development in Northeast Georgia

How to cite this study

Dhongde, S. 2016. Analyzing the impact of the Firefly Trail on economic development in northeast Georgia. GDOT Research Project 15-22. Forest Park, GA: Georgia Department of Transportation.


This study details the expected economic impact of the proposed Firefly Trail in Georgia. The report estimated that the construction of the trail will lead to a one-time increase in total economic output by $32 million, create an additional 158 jobs, and will increase household incomes by $6.9 million at the county level.


This study is relevant to city planners and trail advocates, especially to those interested in understanding the economic impact of proposed trails in lower-income counties. All three counties in the study have median incomes lower than the state median income. One of the goals of the trail is to provide economic benefits to the region such as job creation, income increases, and additional tax revenue. 

The authors noted that analysis should be conducted again once more detailed data on construction, maintenance costs, and potential number of visitors are available. The analysis relies on visitor spending and visitation data from previous trail studies (e.g, Pike2bike Trail and Silver Comet Trail) to estimate economic impact. 


This study is located in Georgia. The trail was planned to go through Clarke, Oglethorpe, and Greene counties.

Trail Type

The Firefly Trail is a proposed 39-mile rail-trail that passes through Clarke, Oglethorpe, and Greene counties in Northeast Georgia. It is a multi-use path for car-free recreation and transportation.


The purpose of this study was to quantify the potential economic impacts of the proposed trail. This information can be used by stakeholders and policymakers to illustrate the economic effect the trail will have on the three counties. The research was sponsored by the Georgia Department of Transportation.


  • The proposed trail is predicted to lead to a one-time increase in total output of $32 million. This includes a direct impact of $24 million due to the construction activity, an indirect impact of $5 million due to the purchases of construction goods and services, and an induced impact of $3 million due to spending by employees in restaurants and shops.
  • The construction is predicted to create an additional 158 jobs, primarily in construction, real estate, and wholesale trade. 
  • The authors predict that household incomes will rise by $6.9 million at the county level.
  • They predict that tax revenue of about $50,000 at the county level will be generated from construction activities, $800,000 at the state level, and $1.26 million at the federal level. 
  • Assuming a turnout of 1.13 million visitors to the trail each year, they estimate that total output will increase by $14.7 million per year when the trail is operational.


Data was collected on income, education, population, and transportation in Clarke, Oglethorpe, and Green counties. Since there are no surveys of potential trail users to estimate the number of visitors, the author uses the number of visitors in other trail studies and Georgia’s population to estimate annual visitors and yearly spending. To estimate construction costs, the author uses data from Northeast Georgia Regional Commission. Using this collection of data, the author utilizes IMPLAN, a statistical software, to assess the economic impact of the Firefly Trail.

Added to library on November 7, 2023