Longleaf Trace to be extended to museum

By HASKEL BURNS,

Officials are in the process of extending the 44-mile Longleaf Trace just a tad bit longer to reach the African-American Military History Museum on East 6th Street in downtown Hattiesburg.

Hattiesburg City Council members recently voted to approve a contract between the city and the Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company for a .68-acre parcel of land that would make room to extend the trail to the museum. The cost for the railroad-owned parcel is $50,000, and the project is a collaboration between the city and the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, which manages the museum.

“We’re going through the land acquisition process,” City Engineer Lamar Rutland said. “We just want to provide the ability to go from the Longleaf Trace to the USO facility on the Longleaf Trace. It’s an additional connection for the Longleaf Trace.”

Now that the first step in the process has been taken, officials will look to work with another railroad line to complete the project.

“Working with the railroad and obtaining property from the railroad can be very difficult,” Rutland said. “We almost have that property obtained, so once that property is secure, plans are probably 60 to 70 percent complete on the design phase of this.

“We actually cross another railroad as a part of this, so we’re dealing with two railroads. We have a few more hurdles to go through to finalize this, but I’d say we’re one step closer to it.”

The Longleaf Trace, which was implemented in 2000, runs along a portion of the abandoned line of the Mississippi Central Railroad. The 10-foot wide paved trail extends through Hattiesburg, Sumrall, Bassfield and Prentiss.

An equestrian trail runs parallel to the Trace, beginning at Clyde Depot and ending at Carson Station.

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