State and city leaders gathered on Jan. 13 to cut the ribbon for the Museum Trail, Jackson’s first paved scenic pathway which connects downtown with LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.
Shortly after the trail officially opened, Casey Creasey received the first phone call from someone complaining of an unsightly problem.
“You can use the trail but sewage is flowing across it and it smells,” said Creasey, executive director of the Greater Belhaven Foundation.
The problem is near Belhaven Heights Park, which is close to the High Street entrance area.
Charles Williams, Ph.D., director of Public Works for the city of Jackson, knows about the problem but cannot give a definitive date about when it will be solved.
“We have an idea of what’s causing the problem but it’s going to take more of an effort to get it mitigated,” he said.
The leak appears to be coming from an adjacent street through the storm drainage system, he said, and could be from a possible sewer line collapse.
Should the city of Jackson receive federal dollars to make repairs to its water distribution system, water treatment facility and sewer system, funds could be used to make repairs like that needed on the Museum Trail, Williams said.
Creasey said the leak has not stopped people from using the trail especially on pretty spring days. “It’s not a huge thing but it’s awful because they just put resources into creating that amenity for the city of Jackson,” she said.
The 2.5-mile Museum Trail follows the abandoned GM&O Railroad from downtown Jackson through greater Belhaven and along the eastern border of LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. The rail-trail portion of the trail runs from Laurel Street to the entrance of the Mississippi Farmers Market on Jefferson Street.
The Museum Trail provides access to four museums and three parks: the Mississippi History Museum, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Mississippi Children’s Museum, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Belhaven Heights Park, Laurel Street Park and LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.
Construction on the $1.6 million project began in July 2020, moving ahead the project that has been in the works for about 10 years.
Bureaucracy, the acquisition of rights-of-way, the need for additional fundraising after the initial push and the installation of a water line slowed the project, which has stretched through the terms of four Jackson mayors and brought together local, state and neighborhood leaders plus numerous community partners.
Projects like the trail are heralded for contributing to an increase in tourism dollars, new business development and revenue growth for existing businesses.
The Museum Trail was made possible with federal grants from the Federal Highway Administration appropriated by 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 such as the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership and the Jackson Heart Foundation, along with numerous individuals and volunteers, contributed resources.
Neel-Schaffer served as the engineering consultant and Hemphill Construction was the general contractor.