By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
Tanglefoot Trail has reached its southern terminal, but work on the project is not finished.
The leveling and grading is complete with the trail bed ready for crews to start laying asphalt as soon as weather and new year allow.
“They have laid the limestone and gotten the surface ready for the asphalt which is the next phase,” said Lee Nabors, Houston’s representative on the Tanglefoot Trail Board of Directors. “The temperature has to be 55-degrees and rising to put down asphalt. We may see work slow down a little with winter weather.”
But Nabors said everything is lining up for an April 2 completion date.
Clearing and construction on the 44-mile Tanglefoot Trail that will stretch from New Albany to Houston made big gains this fall, but Nabors pointed out the project is not yet open to the public.
“We don’t mind people looking at the trail from crossing, but you still can’t get on the trail,” said Nabors. “Nobody wants that trail to be open to the public more than me.”
As with any construction project, there are hazards that could cause injury to persons walking or riding the property.
“I’m even hearing people from Webster and Calhoun county ask me when the trail is going to be open,” said Nabor. “I don’t think people in Chickasaw County realize how much this will mean to our community. There is not a doubt in my mind that restaurants, local stores and lodging will see an increase once it opens.”
Tanglefoot Trail runs through three North Mississippi counties — Union, Pontotoc and Chickasaw. The Trail begins at Main Street in New Albany and runs approximately 44 miles south to its end at Church Street in Houston.
The rails-to-trails project will see the old GM&O railbed turned into a 10-foot wide multi-use trail for cyclists and pedestrians. The project will have two three-foot wide shoulders on each side of the trail.
The first phase of the project saw brush cleared from the rail-bed and the repair of about 30 bridges crossing creeks along the corridor. Phase One will see an asphalt surface stretching the length of the trail completed by the end of early 2013.
The second phase of the project will consist of design and construction of gateway buildings in New Albany, Pontotoc and Houston. This phase will also include the construction of “whistle stop” rest-area facilities at Ingomar, Ecru, Algoma and New Houlka.
Tanglefoot Trail has an estimated economic impact of as much as $4.8 million for Northeast Mississippi. The trail is expected to see up to 100,000 users each year.
Houston’s gateway will be built near the site of the old railroad depot, south of where the railroad crosses U.S. Highway 8 in Houston.
The project is partially funded by a $9.6 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Other funding includes $350,000 in state money and a $100,000 trails grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks.
Engineering Solutions of Pontotoc is the project engineer and Glasgow Construction of Guin, Ala., was awarded the construction contract.
Three Rivers Planning and Development District serves as the administrative and fiscal agent for the GM&O District.