It won’t be long before you can zip over to Alabama and zip back — literally.
Construction started this week on the second phase of the zip line that connects Columbus to Phenix City across the Chattahoochee River. The addition will include a zip line that runs back to Columbus.
Shawn Cullingan, economic development manager for Phenix City, said the addition will create a new experience.
“This brings the zip line to a whole new level so that it is its own standalone entity,” Culligan said.
The construction work is being done by Signature Research Inc., from Douglasville, Ga., and should take about five weeks to complete.
The $330,000 construction cost for the addition is being paid by Uptown Whitewater Management. Whitewater Express, which operates the zip line, will pay tower rent to Uptown Whitewater Management, a nonprofit organization that manages the whitewater course and the zip line, to cover the cost of construction.
It’s a partnership for Phenix City, Culligan said.
“The city is partnered with Whitewater Express and Uptown Whitewater Management to lease the land,” Culligan said. “The way we do it is through a profit share. Through ticket sales, the city gets a portion. It is set up the exact same way this was set up for the last portion of the zip line.”
Dan Gilbert, owner of Decatur, Ga.-based Whitewater Express, said the original zip line built at a cost of $375,000 was “an add on” in the fall of 2014 to the whitewater rafting course that opened the year before.
“This is so magnificent that it is going to be a standalone,” Gilbert said. “People will come here for this alone. And this is exciting because of the number of new people it will bring to Phenix City and Columbus.”
The new construction will add three bridges and three additional zip lines. On the Phenix City Riverwalk, one of the zip lines will be about 60 feet up in a massive oak tree south of Holland Creek.
The zip line run will carry you over the creek to a tower near the Phenix City Amphitheater. From there, the zip line will cross back over the Chattahoochee River and into Georgia, where it will land near the splash pad in front of the Whitewater Express Bay Avenue store.
The cost to do the complete circuit will be about $49 per person, Gilbert said. Shorter trips will start at $29, Gilbert said.
The cities of Phenix City and Columbus, as well as Uptown Whitewater Management LLC, each get 2.5 percent of the cost of a trip. There have been about 40,000 people who have used the zip line, including 15,000 last year, Gilbert said.
One of the benefits of the new 1,400 feet of zip line is it will now take you “full circle,” as Gilbert puts it. Trips will be sold out of the Whitewater Express Phenix City and Columbus stores.
“Now, you can start in either location, and you will finish where you start,” Gilbert said. “With the zip lines and the bridges, it makes a complete circle. In the past, we started in Columbus and ended in Phenix City and we had to take people back by van or boat. So, this is more exiting and more functional.”
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