The ongoing effort to resurface the City of Jackson’s main pedestrian trail is getting another boost from State of Michigan funding. Last month, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced a $300,000 Trust Fund Grant for the resurfacing of the MLK Equality Trail from S. West Avenue to the Optimist rest shelter. This announcement means the City has now secured funding to resurface nearly the entire length of the trail.
A community fixture for more than 30 years, the MLK Equality Trail is starting to show its age with deteriorating pavement and uneven surfaces. 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. The new pathway will be made of concrete to provide a more consistent surface and widened to accommodate more traffic. These improvements will also make the trail more accessible for people with disabilities.
The City is planning on reconstructing the trail in phases over the next two years:
- W. Prospect Street to S. West Avenue: Starting in 2023
- S. West Avenue to Optimist rest shelter: Starting in 2024
- S. MLK Drive to W. Prospect Street: Starting in 2024
- Merriman Street (near the King Center) to S. MLK Drive: Starting in 2025
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.”
The City is currently working on completing the installation of 62 LED lights along the trail from W. Prospect Street to Weatherwax Drive. Also funded by a DNR grant, the light installations will improve safety on the trail, along with allowing residents to use it more frequently during the darker months of the year. Once the project is complete, the entire length of the trail will have lighting.