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New Jackson trail officially opens
The new hiking and biking trail on Route D passes by Barks Trailer Park, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Jackson.
Several yards away, the oversized, concrete sidewalk also passes in front of some landscaped ranch-style brick homes. The trail then goes down to the middle school.
On Tuesday morning, civic and business leaders met at the park for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, boasting the city's newest recreational tool.
"We're all proud of it," Mayor Paul Sander said.
And according to nearby residents, who live in trailers and the brick houses, the new walking trail is a project worth boasting about.
In the southeast corner of Barks Trailer Park, three men were sitting in lawn chairs outside one of the trailers, enjoying the shade and the mild July morning, while two dogs napped the morning away.
Keith Pair was one of the men shooting the breeze.
"I think it's fantastic," he said of the walking trail. "Just great. If we want to walk around or go toward the school, you don't have to worry about walking in the road."
A pedestrian bridge has been built near the trailer park. Before it was built, children walking to the middle school had to step on the street or walk through the creek.
Up Barks Street at the Route D intersection, Kelly Francis, part-owner of the trailer park, was doing some work on an empty trailer.
"I look at it as a safety feature for kids who live in the park here," he said.
A short stroll west on Route D will take pedestrians past the home of Norman and Metta Matthews. The retired couple are happy with the trail.
Norman Matthews uses the trail several times a day to rehabilitate a broken leg.
"I think it's wonderful," Metta Matthews said. "We were concerned how it would turn out, but it makes everything look so much better. A lot of younger kids ride their bikes on it, and a lot of adults walk up to the park."
While the ribbon-cutting ceremony was the official opening of Phase 1, the trail has been usable for several weeks. And, officially, Phase 1 is not yet complete.
There is still a section that will be completed as part of the Farmington/Route D intersection upgrade that will begin in the next few weeks.
The first phase of the project cost $148,000 and was built by G&C Construction. The Missouri Department of Transportation funded 80 percent of the project, with the city paying the rest. Parts of the trail wind and curve, other parts are straight and run parallel to the road, like a sidewalk.
Second phase half done
The city is about halfway finished with the second phase of the recreational trail, which will connect the middle school with Orchard Elementary. That portion of the trail should be complete by the beginning of the school year, officials say.
Part of the Highway 34-72 widening project will include the construction of a recreation trail along the north side of the four-lane highway, connecting West Jackson Boulevard to the second phase of the trail.
The city plans for the trail system to circle Jackson eventually, connecting most of the parks and schools.
Parks director Shane West Anderson said the trail is the most-used recreational feature in the city's park.