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“Century Ride” coming closer as grant awarded to extend trail

Participants in the May 2014 Livable Communities workshop toured the left bank of the Tallahatchie River near the Biscuits & Jam Farmers' Market location. The idea of building the trail connector originated at that meeting.

A $100-thousand grant awarded last week will supply the money to connect the Tanglefoot Trail to the Tallahatchie Trail and Biscuit & Jam Farmers’ Market. The grant was made to the City of New Albany

The additional bike and hiking trail will complete the first component of the city’s long-term plan to create a 100-mile bike route, known to cyclists as a “Century Ride,” a major attraction to serious riders. A round trip on the Tanglefoot Trail is now 88 miles, and the new connector trail will add several miles.

This photograph shows the current open storm sewer, viewed running east from Carter Avenue toward Main Street.

This photograph shows the current open storm sewer, viewed running east from Carter Avenue toward Main Street.

As an additional benefit to city residents and visitors, the project will also eliminate an unsightly and hazardous open storm sewer, a ditch 40 feet wide, 15 feet deep and 550 feet long that runs through downtown New Albany.

The gaping chasm lies immediately next to the Union County Public Library parking lot and extends from Main Street west to Carter Avenue. Carter is the indicated “Downtown” exit from Highway 78/I-22, which means the large open storm sewer is among the most prominent features people see as they arrive downtown.

The big ditch carries storm water to the Tallahatchie River several times each year. Its other and  more prevalent function, about 150 days each year, is as a breeding spot for mosquitoes, which lay hundreds of thousands of eggs in the puddles of stagnant water that stand in the ditch except immediately after a heavy rain.

To construct the trail connector, a culvert able to carry more water volume than could flow into the current open storm sewer, will be placed in the big ditch. It will be covered with dirt and paved to create the additional biking trail. The trail connector will come off the Tanglefoot Trail near the public library. The library parking lot will be re-striped to mark the path from Tanglefoot to the connector. New landscaping will also help define the trail and improve the overall appearance of the area.

The project is expected to be complete no later than May 2017.

The $100-thousand grant is from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and makes use of money provided to the state by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Three Rivers Planning and Development District prepared the application for the $100-thousand grant for the connector trail with help from Sugaree’s Baker owner, Mary Jennifer Russell, and landscape architect Sam Creekmore.

Landscape architect Sam Creekmore's early drawing illustrating the concept of building a trail connector atop what is now an open storm sewer adjacent to the parking lot of the Union County and running west from New Albany's Main Street.

Landscape architect Sam Creekmore’s early drawing illustrating the concept of building a trail connector atop what is now an open storm sewer adjacent to the parking lot of the Union County and running west from New Albany’s Main Street.

The work that resulted in this $100-thousand grant began 16-months ago when the city received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (UCDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a Livable Communities workshop here. Principal speakers for the Livable Communities workshop were supplied by the agencies who made the financial grant for the event.

USDA Architect Fidel Delgado visited with (backs to camera) New Albany First Ward Alderman Jeff Olson and Biscuits & Jam Farmers' Market leader Mary Jennifer Russell during the 2014 Livable communities workshop.

USDA Architect Fidel Delgado visited with (backs to camera) New Albany First Ward Alderman Jeff Olson and Biscuits & Jam Farmers’ Market leader Mary Jennifer Russell during the 2014 Livable communities workshop.

Additionally, Fidel Delgado, architect with USDA Agricultural Marketing Services, came from Washington for the two-day meeting. Delgado specializes in designing farmers’ markets.

New Albany city officials, Union County officials, and representatives of the Mississippi departments of Environmental Quality, Transportation, Agriculture, and Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and local organizations, such as SpeakgreenMS and the Union County Master Gardeners, participated in the May 2014 workshop.

The idea for a trail connecting Tanglefoot Trail to the Biscuits & Jam Farmers’ Market originated at that Livable Communities meeting.

As the application for the $100-thousand grant was prepared, the City of New Albany, the Union County Board of Supervisors, the Union County Historical Society, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County, the Mississippi Development Authority, USDA Rural Development, ARC, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture, and the state Department of Transportation provided letters of support to accompany the grant application.

Mary Jennifer Russell will formally present the grant and the plan for its implementation at the October 6 meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen. It is expected that the board will formally accept the grant and give the go-ahead for the trail connector project, which they pre-authorized by their support of the grant application.

For another reason to be glad for this grant, see: Free acrobatic flying show

 

 

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