HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council approved a new project to light Longleaf Trace east of Highway 49 to help improve the safety and security of those on the trail.
"Anytime we have good lighting, it makes people feel safe," said Mary Dryden, Hattiesburg City Council vice president. "That is a wonderful addition to Hattiesburg to have the trace extend all the way to downtown now to join USM to downtown. It's being used often if you notice when you ride by there, so it needs to be well lit so people don't have to worry about what's happening in the dark time of night."
Mayor Johnny DuPree said the city is concentrating on lighting the entirety of the trail within the city limits, but said improved lighting is just the latest initiative to keep those on the Trace safe.
"The police department now has a bicycle patrol that actually patrols the Trace," he said. "Not only just that section, but all the way down through the inside of Hattiesburg. We actually have police cars. If you go early in the morning or even late at night, you'll see police cars - and it's actually built for that - patrolling there with their lights so that people feel safe. We're doing everything we can to make sure that people feel safe, so they can continue to do things that they enjoy, like walking. I enjoy walking."
The project is a partnership with Mississippi Power to add 100 new LED light poles along the trail. It will cost about $50,000 upfront to install, but DuPree said about half of that will be covered by money raised by Leadership Pine Belt.
Lisa Salcedo, a member of the Leadership Pine Belt class of 2016, said the group raised about $25,000 so far, and hopes to continue fundraising to be able to cover the whole cost.
DuPree said if the city can get the lighting cost covered, emergency call boxes could be added to the trail as well.
If you would like to donate, you can find out how to do so on the Longleaf Trace website or by calling (601) 315-2453.