Jackson residents are enjoying a new surface to run, walk, and bike on following the completion of a construction project on the MLK Equality Trail. A half mile section of the City’s main pedestrian trail was closed for three months for a resurfacing and widening project.
The trail section from W. Prospect Street to S. West Avenue received a new 12 foot wide concrete path, replacing an aging asphalt pathway that had uneven surfaces and deteriorating pavement. The trail was widened to allow for safer sharing of the trail. These improvements also make the MLK Equality Trail more accessible to people with disabilities and meets modern trail standards. The trail’s intersections with W. Prospect Street, Fourth Street and S. West Avenue were also made safer for pedestrians by installing new sidewalk ramps and warning lights to alert drivers.
Two other sections of the pedestrian trail will see construction next year, S. MLK Drive to W. Prospect Street and S. West Avenue to the Optimist rest shelter. 2025 will bring the reconstruction of the trail section from Merriman Street to S. MLK Drive. In recent years, the Parks and Recreation Department has secured a total of $1.3 million in State and Federal funds to reconstruct 2 miles of the 2.8 mile trail, with $222,000 coming from City funds.
Parks and Recreation Director Kelli Hoover says her department is currently working on securing funds for the remaining stretch of the trail from the Optimist rest shelter to Weatherwax Drive, where the City portion of the path ends and turns into the Falling Waters Trail. “The MLK Equality Trail is a big asset for residents when it comes to exercise, but also for getting to school and work,” Hoover said. “Supporting this kind of infrastructure has a long-lasting benefit for the entire community.”
Earlier this summer, the City completed the installation of 62 LED lights along the trail from W. Prospect Street to Weatherwax Drive. Also funded by a State grant, the light installations improve safety on the trail, along with allowing residents to use it more frequently during the darker months of the year. The entire length of the trail now has lighting.