Groundbreaking for The LaVilla Link kicks off 30-mile Emerald Trail

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A 30-mile trail connecting different parts of Jacksonville is now one step closer to reality.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole shows us how it’s expected to bring the community together and deter crime.

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“This day is years in making and took the hard work and efforts of so many in our community,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Tuesday the City of Jacksonville and Groundwork Jacksonville marked the beginning of The Emerald Trail with the 1.3 mile section known as The LaVilla Link.

It will connect Brooklyn and LaVilla to the S-Line Trail in the Railyard District.

Ultimately, it will connect 14 historic urban neighborhoods to Downtown, including McCoy’s creek, which falls in the district of Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis.

“The trail is designed to go to the urban areas of town, which we know are high crime areas,” Dennis told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

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Dennis said similar projects--in New York and in Atlanta-- were successful in helping to discourage crime.

He hopes the same happens here.

Phase one of construction is already underway in McCoy’s Creek part of the project. The phase of this part of the project is expected to take 18-months to complete.

Cole spoke to neighbors in the McCoys creek area today. None were comfortable speaking to her on camera, but some said they hope this project is a sign of more improvements to come, improvements that are much needed in the area.

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“You are talking about over $130 million in investment that’s going to go in areas that hasn’t seen investment in years, since consolidation, or before consolidation that has been passed over.”

The Emerald Trail is set to cost about $184M in total. $132M of that will be covered by the Local Option Gas Tax approved by City Council in May.

It was officially adopted by Jacksonville City Council back in March 2019 and is expected to be finished in 2029.