Longleaf Trace Phase III



Hub City cyclists and walkers will soon have a new corridor to get around the eastern part of town.

Construction is well underway on Phase III of the Longleaf Trace project, a straight-line connection on West Fourth Street that is expected to provide a pedestrian and bicycle connection between downtown Hattiesburg and the University of Southern Mississippi. Work began in October on the path, which covers about 2 miles along a converted railroad line off the north edge of the street.

'They have placed down the base layer of asphalt, so we're moving forward and on schedule as far as that's concerned,' city engineer Lamar Rutland said.

The path, which is expected to be completed in April, will run from the main entry/exit gate at Southern Miss east to Main Street in downtown. In addition to the connection from downtown to the university, the path also is expected to provide access to already-developed Trace spurs, including from West Fourth Street along Hutchinson Avenue to the Hattiesburg Zoo and from Main Street into downtown proper.

'This is to continue the path of the Longleaf Trace,' Rutland said. 'The Trace is already used by so many people in the city, and this is just to further the path and continue that utilization of it.'

The project got a headstart in July, when Hattiesburg City Council approved a low bid of $1,324,161 from JET Construction Inc. of Pascagoula for work on the path. 'It's wonderful to see something so positive happening in Hattiesburg this has been a long time coming,' Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden said. 'I think it's going to be a tremendously positive thing to join USM with downtown, and make that Longleaf Trace continue. It's just a wonderful thing. 'It just seems to be used more every day. We have so many cyclists in Hattiesburg, and I think it's bringing a lot of people to Hattiesburg from other communities because they enjoy it. It's just beautiful it's already a visual improvement on West Fourth Street, and I think it's just going to get better and better.' Once Phase III is completed, Longleaf Trace will offer about 43 miles of trail running from downtown Hattiesburg through the Southern Miss campus, Sumrall and Bassfield to its northwest terminus in Prentiss.

Rutland said he hasn't received a ton of feedback on the project as of yet, but he feels it will be well received by the community once it is done.

'We haven't gotten a lot in either direction,' he said. 'I personally think it's a positive thing for the community, but I haven't seen a whole lot of feedback in itself.'