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Emerald Trail Construction Begins This Fall On 30-Mile Jax Urban Path

Groundwork Jacksonville
This rendering from a computer animation shows a view of the first phase of the Emerald Trail.

An ambitious plan to link Jacksonville’s urban core neighborhoods in a pedestrian and bicycle friendly way is moving forward.

Credit Groundwork Jacksonville
This map shows the first phase of the Emerald Trail.

On Thursday Groundwork Jacksonville unveiled the design for the first $3.9 million piece of the Emerald Trail, called the Emerald Trail Model Project.

Construction on this  first phase is scheduled to begin this fall and link Brooklyn to the S-Line Rail Trail through LaVilla.

The 1.3-mile LaVilla link will cross over the Park Street Bridge and head north along Lee Street. It then turns west at Church Street and northward across Beaver Street until reaching the S-Line Rail Trail at Wilcox Street and State Street in the Railyard District.

The Emerald Trail is a public-private partnership between the city of Jacksonville and the nonprofit Groundwork that is scheduled to connect 14 urban neighborhoods to Downtown, the St. Johns River, McCoys Creek and Hogans Creek. It’s expected to be completed by 2029 and eventually encompass 30 miles.

“Our guiding principles are to design a beautiful, low-maintenance amenity that connects and honors our historic neighborhoods, incorporates green infrastructure wherever possible, and creates a safe habitat for birds, bees, pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Kay Ehas, CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville in an email to WJCT News.

The design of the next two segments, Hogans Street and the S-Line Connector, will begin later this summer, according to Groundwork Jacksonville.

“We are one step closer to creating an amenity unlike any other in our city,” said Mayor Lenny Curry in a  news release.

Groundwork Jacksonville has raised nearly $1,000,000 for the Emerald Trail design from private donations.

Credit Groundwork Jacksonville
By 2029 the Emerald Trail is expected to stretch 30 miles through Jacksonville's urban Core.

The LaVilla Link of the Emerald Trail was designed by Pond, an architecture, engineering, planning and construction firm based in Atlanta with offices in Jacksonville. Pond has designed and implemented more than 400 miles of greenway and multi-use trail projects throughout the South, including work on the Atlanta BeltLine and The Island Trail on St. Simons Island, Ga.

Related: View the Emerald Trail Master Plan

The Emerald Trail will eventually link 16 schools, two colleges and 21 parks among other destinations like restaurants, retail and businesses, with an additional 13 schools and 17 parks located within three blocks of the trail.

Credit Groundwork Jacksonville
This still image taken from an animated computer rendering illustrates what the Emerald Trail will look like as it passes by the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center in LaVilla.
Credit Groundwork Jacksonville
This still image taken from a computer animation illustrates what some of the lighting along the Emerald Trail is expected to look like.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.