Natchez hopes to tie in to bike trail plan

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 19, 2010

The Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority is hoping a proposed bike trail from Vicksburg to Natchez along Entergy power line right of ways could tie in with the city’s planned Natchez Trails Project.

The development authority on Wednesday voted to contribute $2,000 toward a $22,500 feasibility study on the 70-mile bike trail linking Vicksburg and Natchez. Entergy is picking up the bulk of the study’s cost, but municipal boards in Vicksburg, Claiborne and Hinds counties have also made $2,000 contributions. The City of Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Monday to pitch in.

Terry Eastin, Mississippi River Trail executive director, said the feasibility study should be complete in about six months and will be followed by an environmental impact study if the trail is found to be feasible. The trail would be the new route of the local section of the MRT— a recreational bike route that follows the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth downstream of New Orleans.

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The Natchez Trails Project is a $2.9 million venture funded via government earmarks, grants and private contributions, and is to include 5.6 miles of trails in its first phase — which is to be completed by spring 2011.

“If we can get all these trails connected that’s the ultimate goal,” said Natchez City Engineer David Gardner. “Tying in existing trails that we have and hooking them to Grand Village of the Natchez Indians or Emerald Mound is the ultimate overall vision of a community that embraces a trails system, and (the study) could help us develop that.”

If constructed, the trail would be paid for via federal grants requiring a 20 percent local match, said Eastin. The donation of rights of way from Entergy would count as an in-kind match toward the local grant requirements, she added. An estimate on the cost will be in the feasibility study.