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Members of the Tupelo High School (THS) cross-country team and Natchez Trace Parkway staff joined forces on the Blackland Prairie section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail to create a safer railroad crossing for park visitors. The efforts of THS cross country coach Johnathan Begnaud and 51 student team members on Monday, August 3 will facilitate the reopening of the trail.
The railroad crossing between the Parkway's Chickasaw Village site and McCullough Blvd. is being upgraded to provide a safer experience for trail users. A zig-zag railroad crossover bridge and a split rail fence will enable visitors to see both ways along the railroad tracks before they attempt to cross. The improvements to the track crossing make it easier for hikers to navigate over the rails.
"We want to provide the safest experience possible for everyone who uses the scenic trail. Numerous hikers and runners use this trail every day, and we see the upgrade as a significant improvement over the old crossing," said Superintendent Mary Risser.
Motorists should be aware that when the trail reopens, foot traffic will increase at the at the Old Town Creek overpass, the Lakeshire Drive-Highway 78 overpass, and the McCullough Blvd. access road, crosswalk and overpass.
The entire length of the Blackland Prairie section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail will reopenMonday, August 10, pending trail inspection. Much of the trail has been closed for almost two years due to construction of the new Barnes Crossing Road extension and the railroad crossing footbridge.