The City of Jacksonville, Groundwork Jacksonville, and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) have announced plans for what’s next for the Emerald Trail. A Memorandum of Understanding agreement was passed to determine the future design and development of the trail.
A part of the $132 million raised from the Local Option Gas Tax will help fund the five remaining trail segments.
According to the agreement, Groundwork and JTA will come together to manage and oversee trail design, permitting, and procurement that follows the Emerald Trail master plan adopted by the Jacksonville City Council on Mar. 26, 2019.
“The Emerald Trail project is part of a shared vision to rejuvenate our neighborhoods, foster a stronger sense of community, and instill vibrancy in the heart of this city,” JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. said. “We’re excited to partner with Groundwork Jacksonville to design and build the five remaining segments of the Emerald Trail.”
The overall trail is currently 40% complete, under construction, or in the design phase. This includes:
The LaVilla Link -- opened in January 2024.
Hogan Street -- 60% design, construction is set to begin mid-2024.
Hogan Creek -- Design phase, construction set to begin 2026.
McCoys Creek -- Phase 1 is currently under construction. The contract for construction from Riverside Avenue to the St. Johns River has been awarded. Phase 2 through Brooklyn is in design phase, and construction for the westernmost “branches” is expected to begin Fall 2024.
Plenty of financial planning and development remain for the expansive project.
In September, JTA and Groundworks submitted a $184 million “Neighborhood Access & Equity Program Grant” from the U.S. Department of Transportation. That money, if secured, will fund the construction of the five remaining trail segments.
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In a media briefing held on Thursday, that grant funding will also go to “neighborhood equity and revitalization plans for seven Emerald Trail neighborhoods” which include:
“The Emerald Trail will be an incredible catalyst for social and economic opportunity in Jacksonville, from encouraging healthy lifestyles and promoting public safety, to spurring neighborhood revitalization and economic development,” said Mayor Donna Deegan. “Leveraging public-private partnerships will be the key ingredient in ensuring the Trail gets completed in a timely manner for everyone to enjoy.”
The 30-mile Emerald Trail is planned to connect 14 historic urban neighborhoods to downtown, the St. Johns River, McCoys Creek, and Hogans Creek. The objective is to link 16 schools, two colleges, three hospitals, and 21 parks.