Hub City cyclists and
walkers will soon have a new corridor to get around the eastern part of
Construction is well underway on Phase III of the Longleaf
Trace project, a straight-line connection on West Fourth Street that is
expected to provide a pedestrian and bicycle connection between downtown
Hattiesburg and the University of Southern Mississippi. Work began in
October on the path, which covers about 2 miles along a converted
railroad line off the north edge of the street.
'They have placed
down the base layer of asphalt, so we're moving forward and on schedule
as far as that's concerned,' city engineer Lamar Rutland said.
The path, which is expected to be completed in April, will run from the
main entry/exit gate at Southern Miss east to Main Street in downtown.
In addition to the connection from downtown to the university, the path
also is expected to provide access to already-developed Trace spurs,
including from West Fourth Street along Hutchinson Avenue to the
Hattiesburg Zoo and from Main Street into downtown proper.
is to continue the path of the Longleaf Trace,' Rutland said. 'The Trace
is already used by so many people in the city, and this is just to
further the path and continue that utilization of it.'
project got a headstart in July, when Hattiesburg City Council approved
a low bid of $1,324,161 from JET Construction Inc. of Pascagoula for
work on the path. 'It's wonderful to see something so positive happening
in Hattiesburg — this has been a long time coming,' Ward 4 Councilwoman
Mary Dryden said. 'I think it's going to be a tremendously positive
thing to join USM with downtown, and make that Longleaf Trace continue.
It's just a wonderful thing. 'It just seems to be used more every day.
We have so many cyclists in Hattiesburg, and I think it's bringing a lot
of people to Hattiesburg from other communities because they enjoy it.
It's just beautiful — it's already a visual improvement on West Fourth
Street, and I think it's just going to get better and better.' Once
Phase III is completed, Longleaf Trace will offer about 43 miles of
trail running from downtown Hattiesburg through the Southern Miss
campus, Sumrall and Bassfield to its northwest terminus in Prentiss.
Rutland said he hasn't received a ton of feedback on the project as
of yet, but he feels it will be well received by the community once it
'We haven't gotten a lot in either direction,' he said.
'I personally think it's a positive thing for the community, but I
haven't seen a whole lot of feedback in itself.'