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Friday, January 20, 2006

Mapping the Mississippi River Trail

As many of you know, there has been an active effort to map the entire route of the MRT for several years now. Although a team has committed lots of time and energy working diligently to complete this project, the work is far from being done.

Since the beginning of my involvement with the MRT last fall, I've pushed for a resolution of this pressing issue, offering suggestions how we could map the route in a timely fashion and attain acceptable results.

Last month, I was asked to organize a meeting of cyclists in Memphis to begin an assessment process of the MRT in Tennessee. The immediate goal of the project is to get more cyclists to ride and comment upon the current route of the MRT in this state; the long term goal is to formulate an effective process that can be replicated to maximize the pleasure of riding the MRT along the entire 3000 mile route of the trail.

After selecting a meeting place, date and time, I began brainstorming on the tools we'd need to help cyclists ride the route. Both physical signage along the MRT in Tennessee and maps of the route are insufficient and confusing; thus, the first task to get more cyclists on the route is to provide the route info that cyclists need. In other words, we needed maps that clearly delineated the MRT's route in Tennessee. The maps needed to be easily available to the entire cycling community with little to no effort or cost to the end user (cyclists) and the maps had to be ready ASAP. Obviously, the distribution channel that made the most sense was to make the maps available online but what maps should we use?

Frankly, I feel that the best mapping solution at this time is offered by Dave Ploch's Google Maps interface; it's easy to update, free to users and ready now. Dave has already mapped the entire route of the MRT and has agreed to allow us to update the maps when route revisions are required. There are issues related to using Dave's Google Mapping interface; however, both Google and Dave are working to improve features and resolve these issues.

If you have not already done so, please have a look at Dave's system and let me know what you think.

Following are URL's to view maps of the MRT in Tennessee using Dave Ploch's Google Maps system...

TN Segment 1 (Reelfoot to Ripley)
TN Segment 2 (Ripley to Covington)
TN Segment 3 (Covington to Memphis)

To view Dave's other maps of the MRT, visit the following URL. Click ROUTES, then select ALL from the drop down menu.

Larry Lagarde
Mid-South Coordinator
Mississippi River Trail

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mississippi River Trail Memphis Meeting To Be Held January 24th

Mississippi River Trail, Inc. in conjunction with the Mississippi River Natural and Recreational Corridor Project, will host a meeting for state and local officials, Greater Memphis cyclists, and trail advocates statewide at Otherlands Coffee Bar, 641 S Cooper St, Memphis, on Tuesday, January 24th at 6:30 p.m. The purpose of this meeting is to establish a process to ride, evaluate and make recommendations for improvements to the 200 mile Mississippi River Trail Cycling Route through Tennessee.

The Mississippi River Trail is a world-class bicycle trail that follows the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. When complete, the trail will link more than 3,000 miles of both on-road and off-road trails within 10 states.

Designated as a National Millennium Trail, the MRT will preserve precious natural elements along the river, stimulate economic growth in river communities and provide bicyclists access to a variety of landscapes, history and culture.

For more information, contact Larry Lagarde, MRT Mid-South Coordinator at 901-722-5809.

For directions to Otherlands, please refer to this map or call them at (901) 278-4994.

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