Jackson is celebrating the official opening of a new trail that increases pedestrian access and creates safe walks to school! A ribbon cutting event for the new Ella Sharp Park Trail was held Sept. 17, and was attended by residents, City of Jackson officials, and representatives from Jackson Public Schools (JPS).
The new trail along Elmdale Drive through Ella Sharp Park replaces a 30 year old pedestrian trail that had deteriorating surfaces, flooding issues, and was close to vehicle traffic. Now that the 1 mile long trail is officially open, walkers, runners and bikers can enjoy a new path that’s wider, further set back from the street, and has a dedicated bridge over a drain.
The improved trail also goes beyond the original length of the old trail, creating a new stretch along S. Jackson Street that better connects Ella Sharp Park to Jackson’s south side neighborhood. Because this trail is often used by students to reach Middle School at Parkside and the Sharp Park Academy, the City used a Safe Routes to School grant from the State of Michigan to fund most of the project.
The City of Jackson has been planning this improvement for several years with the school district. JPS Superintendent Jeff Beal expects this trail to increase the amount of students walking and biking to school. “As we build up schools to support our community, we love the fact that our partnership with the City allows Jackson to create a more walkable environment. The trail system here is second to none, and we’re thrilled to be a part of that,” Beal said at the ribbon cutting.
Parks and Recreation Director Kelli Hoover, says she is excited to see Jackson’s trail system expand. “The trail system for the City of Jackson is a lifeline to residents. People use it for exercise, commuting to work, getting to school, and to reach every day services,” Hoover said at the ribbon cutting. “This is a project six years in the making. I thank JPS and the City’s Engineering Division for helping make it happen.”
The new Ella Sharp Park Trail connects to the MLK Equality Trail, which is the City’s main pedestrian trail that starts in Downtown Jackson and cuts across the southern half of the City.