Duval County

This Week in the 904: Groundwork Jax CEO discusses funding for the city’s Emerald Trail project

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sections of Jacksonville’s Emerald Trail are inching closer to reality.


The Emerald Trail will be 33 miles long running through 14 neighborhoods. It will go past historic homes, have an art walk and go across the St. Johns River.

The master plan is to create a network of trails for cyclists and pedestrians alike. The project’s goals are to help revive downtown, repair local homes and neighborhoods and restore creeks to prevent flooding.

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Kay Ehas, the CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville, said the project is partially modeled after “The Beltline” in Atlanta, Georgia.

“So, every major trail city has a nonprofit, private partner. It’s part of the model. So, we’re not doing a different model, and depending on what city, you have more or less private dollars going into the project,” Ehas explained to Action News Jax.

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Ehas said Jacksonville is a harder place to raise money because there aren’t as many major corporations and foundations headquartered here. However, the Emerald Trail is getting some corporate donations.

“So, it’s tougher here. However, we are securing corporate sponsors, not at the $10 million level yet, but it’s they’re starting to take notice and starting to come in,” she said.

Ehas said an announcement will be made in November to reveal the newest donor.

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While the Emerald Trail project is looking outside the city for funding, there may also be donors in the heart of Jacksonville.

The Jaguars donated towards the Hawkins Creek design early in the project, but more money could be on its way. Ehas thinks the team is interested in Segment 8, which connects the Eastside neighborhood.

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The project has secured more than $248 million in total so far from sources like the city, Groundwork Jacksonville and the Florida Department of Transportation.

On top of that, there is more funding to be expected from state and federal grants.

You can hear Action News Jax’s anchor John Bachman’s full conversation with Kay Ehas about funding the Emerald Trail on Sunday on “This Week in the 904.” It’s at 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on CBS47 and at 5 a.m. on FOX30.

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Chase Berger

Chase Berger, Action News Jax

Chase Berger is an Associate Producer for Action News Jax.

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