Houston, MS

February 22-24, 2015

Local Coordinating Organization: Carl Small Town Center, Mississippi State University 

Pop 3,543

Workshop Challenge: The workshop explored how to transform the Tanglefoot Trail trailhead into a great community public space and create a stronger connection between the trail and Houston’s downtown. By improving pedestrian and bicycle access to the Trail and creating a phased action plan for its future trail development, the Tanglefoot Trail could transform into a cultural and economic asset for the community. The Tanglefoot Trail, in Northeast Mississippi, is the longest fully built rail-trail in the state at 43.6 miles. The trail goes through seven small towns and three counties and terminates in the heart of Houston.

Workshop Outcomes: The workshop resource team, experts in bicycle and pedestrian planning, wayfinding, and Placemaking, were joined by four enthusiastic architecture students from Mississippi State University to engage the community and identify potential connections, design and programming of the Trail. The Carl Small Town Center and the students of Mississippi State came up with innovative idea gathering tools including a variation of Candy Chang’s Before I Die board and a ‘Connections’ map to solicit quick responses from the community about their vision and dreams for Houston. With the help of a big map of the trailhead and it’s surrounding areas, yarn in four colors (for color coding various travel modes) and thumb-tacks, the students were able to map out the current paths and desire lines for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers to the trailhead.

Post-Workshop Accomplishments: Since the workshop, the community has been working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to build an exit ramp off the trail, which will make a critically needed access path to the Houston downtown. In 2016 the Carl Small Town Center was awarded the American Planning Association’s James A. Segedy Award for Outstanding Student Project for the proposed trailhead pavilion design developed as a result of the workshop. Also, since the workshop the Carl Small Town Center (CSTC) has designed a phased pavilion for the trailhead space. Unfortunately, the community did not follow the site plan developed at the CIRD workshop and rather than use the pro-bono designs CSTC gave them the community built a small, cheap pavilion at the trailhead. This was a faster and less costly alternative but does not add as much value to the site since the pavilion is so small. 

Read More: 

Read more about our workshop here.

Read our workshop notebook here.