Traffic on the Tanglefoot Trail has increased significantly since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and Three Rivers Planning and Development District Executive Director Randy Kelley said he continues to be pleased with the cooperation between county and municipal personnel along the route.

Kelley didn’t have official numbers, but fuller garbage cans are an easy way to tell traffic is increasing, he said.

“We figure that with the recent shutdown and quarantine people are eager for outdoor recreation where’s it’s easy to keep your space and be in the open, healthy air,” said Kelley.

Trail officials reopened bathrooms at the New Albany, Ecru, Pontotoc, Houlka, and Houston stops in mid June, after having closed them due to CDC guidelines concerning the Coronavirus.

Officials have not reopened the bathrooms at Algoma or Ingomar, and for good reason.

“It’s a money issue,” said Kelley. “Unlike the other stops, the resources aren’t available to clean the facilities at Algoma and Ingomar as frequently as required by the CDC.”

Upkeep along the trail continues to be excellent, Kelley said, thanks to harmony between public servants along the Tanglefoot.

“From bush-hogging, to cleaning downed limbs and debris and all kinds of maintenance, county supervisors in Chickasaw, Pontotoc, and Union counties have been tremendously responsive,” said Kelley. “Some have equipment that others don’t, like a root-cutter, for example, that’s needed every year, and other counties step in. We’ve yet to make a request to any supervisor or municipality that was turned down. “The trail is a terrific example of local government partnership,” said Kelley.

That cooperation is also evident in the exceptional work county sheriff’s departments and police provide in keeping the trail safe, Kelley said. Even with the area’s finest watching over things, caution is still in order, Kelley said.

“There are stop signs at all crossings, and people need to be very careful when crossing traffic areas,” said Kelley. “Some parts of the trail pass through fairly isolate and rural areas, so going in pairs is always smart.”

One feather in the cap of counties and towns along the trail is that officials had the foresight, when building, to reserve a 100-foot easement, or right-of-way, extending 50 feet outward from either side of the trail. That easement is owned by the Tanglefoot and local governments and could be a lucrative investment.

“Local governments have held that easement perpetually, and it’s a tremendous longtime asset,” said Kelley.

Trail leadership

The 43.5 mile Tanglefoot Trail is funded by a tax of .25 mils from all taxable properties within the three counties and six municipalities through which it passes. It is overseen by a board of eight members, one from Pontotoc, Chickasaw, and Union counties, as well as one each from the municipalities of New Albany, Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma, New Houlka, and Houston.

The board meets on the second Friday of each month, at 8 a.m., in the conference room at Three Rivers Planning and Development District, at 75 S. Main St., in Pontotoc. Meetings are open to the public.

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