C & G rail coalition brings travelers back to old routes in new ways

MISSISSIPPI (WCBI) – Riding the rails used to be a ticket to adventure, but over the years lines have closed and once-busy tracks are disappearing.

Now a railroad company and several Mississippi towns are teaming up to bring travelers back to those old routes in a new way.

We took a look at how they are planning to turn rails into trails.

For decades the Columbus and Greenville Railroad connected the Prairie and the Delta. But much of the C and G Line was abandoned in 2000.

Now members of the C & G rail coalition along with leaders from several cities and towns that used to be stops along the railroad are teaming up to spur new traffic along the route.

Company president Wilson Carroll wants to transform the old line into a new biking and hiking trail

“This year the new owners of the railroad reached out to me and indicated that they want to close this deal and put a rail trail on it so we’re doing our part to make it happen,” said Carroll.

Carroll and Eupora leaders went to West Point on Tuesday to discuss how to turn the plans into reality.

Rails to Trails is not a new idea, but the team wants to take the concept up a notch.

“It will be a 92-mile trail all the way from Greenwood to West Point. As a matter of comparison, the Long Leaf Trace is 45 miles and the Tanglefoot Trail is 42 miles so this will be twice as long as anything that exists in Mississippi today,” said Carroll.

Carroll says he has been working on this project since 2008 and does not expect the wheels to hit the track for another three to five years.

Each city and town will have to pass a resolution to approve the trail to go through. Leaders along the route see the potential for new tourism dollars.

“Our hotels will see an automatic increase, obviously they’re going to be eating in your restaurants when they stop and shop in the stores so boutiques so it’s a positive thing anytime you can implement something that will drive people to your community that normally would not come,” said West Point Mayor Rod Bobo.

Carroll said he plans to meet with city leaders again in West Point to try and get the ball rolling for the Rails to Trails project.

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