By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – Memo from officials to fans of the Tanglefoot Trail: Curb your enthusiasm – temporarily.
Early this year, construction crews began transforming the former railroad stretching about 45 miles from downtown New Albany to Church Street in Houston into a hiking-biking-horseback riding trail. Until its formal opening next year, however, access is limited to those actually involved in the work.
“The District is pleased that the project is now under construction,” said Betsey Hamilton, chairwoman of the GMamp&O Rails to Trails District Board of Directors. “However, until the project is complete and opened for public use in mid-2013, the Trail remains posted against all public use or access.
“While the project is under construction, the full 45-mile trail will remain under the jurisdiction of the contractor, Glasgow Construction,” she added. “As with any developing project, there are many hazards that could cause injury to both persons and/or property while construction is in progress. For that reason, we ask the citizens to please stay off the Tanglefoot Trail.”
District officials note that law enforcement officers in Union, Pontotoc and Chickasaw counties are authorized to arrest trespassers and that such a charge is punishable by up to a $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said work has just progressed to the point where officers can access the trail by vehicle.
“We’re fixing to start patrolling it regularly,” he said.
In a written notice, District officials declared, “The trail will continue to be posted until such time that the District notifies the public otherwise.”
The first phase of the project, expected to be completed next year, includes clearing, bridge repair and trail construction. Phase 2 will see work on welcome centers in New Albany, Pontotoc and Houston, along with “whistle stop” rest area facilities at Ingomar, Ecru, Algoma and Houlka.
An equestrian trail also is under construction.