BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Birmingham area is about to get a lot greener.

The non-profit Freshwater Land Trust announced Tuesday it’s expanding its Red Rock Trail System to create more green spaces across the region.

The project, a 36-mile trail loop around the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area, connects Railroad Park to Ruffner Mountain and Red Mountain Park. It also adds 19 new trail miles through Birmingham, Fairfield, Homewood and Irondale and is expected to take 15 years to complete at a cost of $40 million.

“The main goal was just to help our community to be healthier, to give everybody more opportunities to easily access places to go outdoors and get exercise … but it’s also bringing people together,” said Dr. Mark Wilson with the Jefferson County Department of Health, a partner of Freshwater Land Trust in the project.

Rusha Smith, the executive director of Freshwater Land Trust, said their ultimate goal is for every resident in Jefferson County to have a green space or trail within a mile of their home.

Currently, 2.5 million people a year use the Red Rock Trail System, and with the expansion, Smith pointed out the economic, health and transportation benefits are only going to get better.

“This will yield $25 million of those benefits annually,” Smith said.

The move has created excitement for the mayors of Birmingham, Fairfield, Irondale and Homewood.

“We’ve seen residential growth on the trails, we’ve seen economic development on the trails,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

“The benefits to our citizens from this project will be immense,” said Eddie Penny, mayor of Fairfield.

“It’s gonna add to the assets that we currently have,” said James D. Stewart, mayor of Irondale.

“We really look forward to the future and more connection to the entire Jefferson County region,” said Patrick McClusky, mayor of Homewood.  

That’s a feeling shared by the people who use the trails, like James Hoskins.

“I think it’d be a great idea … It would add a lot more beauty to [the area],” Hoskins said.