Longleaf Trace Expands - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Longleaf Trace Expands

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A missing piece of the puzzle is solved thanks to a donation from Hercules Inc.

Officials from the City of Hattiesburg said they've been trying for a while to extend the Longleaf Trace into downtown, but acquiring right-of-way was an issue.

Hercules donated .45 acres of land on the north side of West 4th St. that makes the project possible.

Hattiesburg Director of Engineering Bert Kuyrkendall says the project is a long time coming.

"It's a crucial project, though, because currently it goes from downtown Prentis through downtown Bassfield to downtown Sumrall, and when it gets to Hattiesburg, it stops," Kuyrkendall said.  "It stops at USM, but really it needs to go to downtown Hattiesburg."

He said adding just 2 1/2 miles to the pathway does just that.

Kuyrkendall said another reason the pathway is crucial is because it will be one of the only pedestrian and bicyclist pathway running East to West in the city.

"It's really important for the trace, but it's also important because as you get in a more urbanized area, the trail usage - it's going to be recreational usage - but it's also going to be a lot of commuting use - people that ride their bikes that are riding to USM, if they're high school kids or elementary kids that are trying to get to school by walking or by biking - we're going to be seeing a lot more of that on this stretch, too," Kuyrkendall said.

He said only 20% of the project is being funded with city money.  The rest is coming from a Transportation Alternative Program Grant and STP funds.

Kuyrkendall said he hopes to begin the project by February of next year.

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