Jacksonville Secures Historic Federal Grant for Emerald Trail Expansion

The City of Jacksonville, in collaboration with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and Groundwork Jacksonville, has been awarded a groundbreaking federal grant of $147 million. This substantial funding will facilitate the design and construction of five crucial segments of the Emerald Trail, marking the largest single federal grant ever received by Jacksonville.

The journey to secure this significant grant began in September 2023 when JTA and Groundwork Jacksonville applied for the Neighborhood Access & Equity Program Grant from the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City, Groundwork, and JTA, the aim was to fund the construction of the remaining trail segments. In November of the same year, Mayor Donna Deegan, JTA CEO Nat Ford, and Groundwork CEO Kay Ehas traveled to Washington DC to advocate for Jacksonville’s commitment to community improvement, meeting with key officials including Reps. John Rutherford and Aaron Bean, as well as representatives from the offices of Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

Out of hundreds of applications nationwide, the joint application for the “Emerald Trail: Reconnecting and Revitalizing Jacksonville’s Urban Neighborhoods” was among the 132 recipients announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Mayor Donna Deegan expressed gratitude for the collaborative effort, stating, “This record-setting grant is the result of fantastic collaboration with our partners JTA and Groundwork Jacksonville, the relationships we’ve built with the Biden Administration, and the experienced team we hired to bring more federal tax dollars home.”

JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford echoed the sentiment, acknowledging the significance of the grant in accelerating the completion of the Emerald Trail segments. He emphasized the confidence shown by the U.S. Department of Transportation in Jacksonville’s ability to deliver essential infrastructure projects.

The five remaining trail segments to be constructed include connections to various neighborhoods, such as Riverside, McCoys Creek, North Riverside, Woodstock, Robinsons’ Addition, Durkeeville, College Gardens, New Town, Phoenix, and Springfield.

Kay Ehas, CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville, expressed enthusiasm for the grant’s impact on underserved urban neighborhoods, emphasizing the acceleration of their work and the substantial investment it brings to these areas.

Currently, 40% of the trail is either complete, under construction, or in the design phase, including projects such as the LaVilla Link and Hogan Street.

JTA Chair Debbie Buckland hailed the grant as a testament to the vision and dedication of all involved parties, reaffirming the commitment to elevate Jacksonville to new heights of success for future generations to enjoy.

About the Emerald Trail: The 30-mile Emerald Trail will connect 14 historic urban neighborhoods to downtown, the St. Johns River, McCoys Creek, and Hogans Creek. The Emerald Trail will link 16 schools, two colleges, three hospitals, 21 parks and the Regional Transportation Center, among other destinations like restaurants, retail, and businesses, with an additional 13 schools and 17 parks located within three blocks of the trail. As a city-owned public park, the City of Jacksonville will maintain and operate the Emerald Trail once complete, with the support of Groundwork Jacksonville Emerald Trail Stewards.

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