KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Valley Authority is contributing $1.2 million to a University of Tennessee project with the goal of creating a 652-mile trail network along the Tennessee River.

The Tennessee RiverLine project aims to connect Knoxville to Paducah, Kentucky. The project aims to promote awareness of the region’s natural beauty and fragility as well as catalyze tourism and economic opportunity in riverside towns across four states.

Plans call for a continuous system of paddle, hike and bike trail experiences and more. TVA said the network will give each River Town an opportunity to showcase all they have to offer like off-the-map attractions, one-of-a kind restaurants and more.

More than 2.4 million people live in communities along the Tennessee River.

The initiative was founded in the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design’s School of Landscape Architecture in 2016. TVA announced the $1.2 million partnership in January.

More than 60 UT students have been involved in trail system planning, amenity design, conducting research and applications for state and federal funding with a pilot group of five river communities since the start of the initiative. The initiative welcomed 15 communities in October, representing 35 cities and counties and 836,000 citizens, as members of the inaugural Tennessee RiverTowns Program cohort. 

While the project remains in its early stages, the Tennessee RiverLine Project released its 2020 report detailing what has been accomplished through the initiative and what could be possible if it is fully realized.