First phase of Jacksonville trail project complete
by Laura Gaddy
Nov 26, 2013 | 2881 views |  0 comments | 82 82 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tuesday drops of rain sprinkled the smooth, black surface of a new path that extends from the Chief Ladiga Trail in Jacksonville along a creek.

Sandwiched between Alabama Damascus Steel and Cutlery and the old Profile Cotton Mill, the path is the first completed phase of the long-planned Creekside Trail. City officials want to extend the path to the Public Square to draw more cyclists toward the city’s business district, but it’s unclear how long the project will take.

“We’ve got this beautiful spot of nature kind of in the middle of the city,” said Janis Burns, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s a slow process.”

The project is a joint venture between the parks department and the Street Department. Establishing the trail has been slow because the Street Department is doing most of the work when staff can find the time, said Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith said.

“We’re doing this in-house,” Smith said.

The city, however, paid Logan Construction of Jacksonville $15,733 to pave the path.

Attempts to reach the Street Department to find out how much money the city spent on labor and supplies for the work it did on its own were not successful this week. The city’s finance director said spending on the project was not tracked separately from other Street Department work.

Three weeks ago city crews paved an existing gravel path with asphalt and installed a new bench along the way.

The city began planning the project more than five years ago. About three years ago the city began to develop the Creekside Trail, Smith said.

At that time, a path was cleared through the woods from the Chief Ladiga Trail to Alexandria Road for the project’s first phase. City workers also cleared a path from the road through a wooded area near the old Profile Mill Village to a city park at Coffee Street for the project’s second phase, Smith said.

Smith said the third phase is expected to extend from Coffee Street toward the Public Square.

“The third phase is a good way off,” Smith said.

Burns said the finished path may also be good for pedestrians because it will allow them to walk or run from the trail to the heart of town without having to use streets.

Already, Burns said, people have begun using the newly paved portion of the the path. In recent days, she’s spotted people using the new bench.

“It was kind of nice to see that just a few days after putting it out,” she said. “It’s really a nice addition to our city.”

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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