Final phase of Longleaf Trace dedicated

Final phase of Longleaf Trace dedicated

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The third and final phase of the Longleaf Trace Rails to Trails was dedicated Thursday.

It is a two-mile section that runs from Highway 49 to North Main Street.

It was named in honor of Hattiesburg mayor Johnny Dupree, who helped get the $1.2 million needed to complete the project.

The city has also constructed several other bike lanes that connect Phase III with other parts of downtown.

"Our goal is to make sure that, if you live in Hattiesburg, within a mile, you'll find something like this, a walking trail, a community center, something that will get you to exercise," said Dupree.

The Longleaf Trace is 42-miles long and runs from Hattiesburg to Prentiss.

It was constructed on the rights of way of an abandoned portion of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad line.

The initial phase opened in 2000.

Longleaf Trace Board of Directors president Lynn Cartlidge said Thursday that much of the trail needs resurfacing and he is looking for new funding sources to get that done.

"Hopefully, we'll raise some funds without having to try to go to the cities and counties for additional funds," said Cartlidge. "It's going to be pretty expensive to overlay and we'll have to do that in phases, we've kind of got it worked out, probably four or five different phases."

He added, "We're working Washington (D.C.) and the State and everywhere else trying to raise up some funds."

Efforts to convert the railroad into a recreational trail began in 1993.