Design plans underway to extend the Museum Trail

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Plans to add a quarter-mile stretch to the Museum Trail near the bend in the aqueduct are progressing.

“Neel-Schaffer is in the process of developing plans for the Aqueduct Bend segment of the trail,” said volunteer and trail advocate Dr. Clay Hayes Jr. “We hope to launch it for tender and start construction late this year or early next year.”

The Jackson Heart Foundation is funding the design.

The planned segment would connect the trail from where it ends in the Belhaven neighborhood to the section where it resumes on Museum Drive past the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

“We want to connect them under the curve of the aqueduct through the treatment plant. This way we won’t have to use Myrtle Street in Belhaven to get from section to section in the long run,” Hays said.

The city of Jackson had to provide an easement around the JH Fewell water plant and the Mississippi Department of Transportation also had to provide an easement, he said.

The 2.5-mile Market to Museum Trail follows the abandoned GM&O Railroad from downtown Jackson through greater Belhaven and along the eastern border of LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. The rail portion of the trail runs from Laurel Street to the entrance to Mississippi’s Farmers Market on Jefferson Street.

The trail provides access to four museums and three parks: the Mississippi History Museum, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Mississippi Children’s Museum, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Belhaven Heights Park, Laurel Street Park, and LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.

The Jackson Heart Foundation purchased four trash cans and six benches to place along the trail, Hays said, noting those should be installed in August.

The foundation has worked with the Greater Belhaven Foundation and other partners on projects along the trail, he said.

“There are a lot of people working together,” Hays said. “We’ve been working on getting grants from AARP.”

The museum trail was made possible by federal grants from the Federal Highway Administration provided by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Mississippi Central Planning and Development District, with matching grants from the private sector.

Organizations such as the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson Heart Foundation, along with many individuals and volunteers, have contributed time and energy in the more than decade-long effort to reach the grand opening in July. 2020.

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