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Like going outside? See how a new $25M project is progressing

The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission tells News 19 phases I & II should be finished in about 2.5 years.

IRMO, S.C. — A Columbia-area project more than 40 years in the making is now getting closer to reality.

Not what if anymore, but when. That's the change in conversation about the Lower Saluda Greenway Extension, running from Lake Murray all the way to the Riverbanks Zoo.

This $24M project spanning 10.5 miles is now being designed and engineered after getting the green light.

A greenway is any section of nature that's set apart as green space with a surface trail or dirt path. 

It also includes amenities like benches, restrooms, access points and parking. 

RELATED: Walking Trails Around The Midlands

"Lexington County has funded the full design and engineering work, so that's already kicked off and underway. The state has put in resources. We've gotten a grant from the economic development administration, the EDA, as well as the last section has been adopted by the central midlands council of government to be funded under their transportation funding," said Mark Smyers, executive director of the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission.

These monetary commitments starting in May and ending last month are what's allowing for a better breath of fresh air to those living throughout Lexington County. 

"It should unite our community with a beautiful corridor of resources that not every day we get to enjoy all this," Smyers said.

RELATED: Prisma Health, City of Columbia collaborate to improve and connect three riverfront greenways

The new space will give Midlands residents a great opportunity to unplug, which is much harder to do now-a-days. 

"When you're walking through nature and you're not worried about your emails or the text messages or anything on social media, you're just there in the moment. It steals your focus and you're present," Smyers said.

The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission tells News 19 the first two phases of the project should be done in two and a half years. 

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