Dignitaries and principal project planners and developers break ground on the Museum Trail. Image: Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation

The City of Jackson and the Mississippi Department of Transportation held a groundbreaking ceremony at the Mississippi Farmer’s Market on the corner of Jefferson Street and Mississippi Street today to commemorate the beginning of the City’s construction on the multi-use Museum Trail.

The two-and-a-half-mile trail, ten years in the making, is expected to be complete by the end of October 2020 and will connect the Mississippi Farmers Market and downtown museums to three public parks and the Mississippi Children’s Museum. The trail follows the abandoned GM&O Railroad which travels through Greater Belhaven and along the eastern border of LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.

“We are grateful to MDOT, the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, and all of the partners who helped to bring this long-awaited project to fruition,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “We are excited to break ground on this Museum Trail, which will undoubtedly help to increase the quality of life for our citizens.

Constructed specifically for exercise and non-motorized transportation, the trail hopes to connect JXN to its rich history while positively impacting the health of citizens and the economic development of the community.

Projects like the Museum Trail average a return of three dollars for every dollar invested. Similar projects in Hattiesburg and Memphis, TN have contributed to a significant economic boon for those cities, including new business development, revenue growth for existing businesses, and an increase in tourism dollars. And, studies have shown that real estate values increase within walking distance of multi-use trails.

In addition to the expected increase in revenue for the City, multi-use trails such as this also help to promote a healthier lifestyle. The Museum Trail is a core segment in a planned network of trails that will eventually provide safe bicycle and pedestrian travel throughout Greater Jackson.

This project is made possible through federal grants in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, with grant dollars matched by generous financial contributions from the private sector.

Additionally, organizations like the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson Heart Foundation, along with numerous individuals and volunteers, contributed time and energy over the ten-plus year effort to reach the groundbreaking.

More information on the Museum Trail may be found on the JXN Trailblazers website or on Facebook at @museumtrail.

Update (Oct. 22, 2020): Noted in a Northside Sun article “depending upon the weather, the trail could be completed by the end of the year, said Chad Toles, project engineer for Neel-Schaffer.”