Government leaders and tourism officials in Pointe Coupee Parish are moving forward with plans to re-establish an abandoned, 10-mile bike trail along False River between the Oscar community and the city of New Roads.
Parish officials said the trail and bike path, established in 1987 along the western rim of the 22-mile oxbow lake formed when the Mississippi River changed course in the early 1700s, could serve as an educational attraction for visitors as well as a place for residents to get some healthy exercise.
Police Jury President Melanie Bueche, who put the proposal on the jury’s July 10 meeting agenda, explained she did so after one of her constituents asked her why the parish lacks a bike trail. The resident suggested establishing one around False River, she said.
“Going all around False River is fine when you’re on La. 1, but when you get on the island side of the river, you really don’t have much shoulder,” Bueche told jurors. “I know these marathon bicycle riders do, some kind of way, make it around the river, but I think it’s extremely dangerous.”
When she approached parish administrators about the issue, Bueche said, she was reminded about the since-discarded bicycle and hiking trail that was established back in 1987 by Kevin Cicero, of Tobert.
Bueche said Cicero started the trail as an Eagle Scout service project with the help of his scoutmaster, Joseph Jarreau, and Jarreau’s wife, Gail.
The trail, officially named the False River Historical Trail Hike and Bicycle Tour, was a 10-mile path with 16 historical markers and stops along La. 1 between Oscar and New Roads.
Those stops included several historic homes dating as far back as 1750, the parish museum, a pecan-shelling plant, the parish hospital and the parish courthouse, Bueche said.
Parish officials said that when La. 1 was resurfaced by the state Department of Transportation and Development in 2006, all the historical signs along the trail were uprooted and discarded, leading to the trail’s demise.
But after receiving her constituent’s suggestion, Bueche said, she contacted DOTD officials about the situation. They told Bueche they would be willing to make new signs and install them along the trail if they were paid to do so.
Bueche said she intends to approach a private benefactor to pay for the signs, which she thinks would cost about $900.
Police Jury members unanimously supported Bueche’s proposal, with Juror Cornell Dukes even suggesting the jury host an annual bike ride along the trail.
“I think this is a great idea,” Dukes said. “It also helps with our health benefits. People can start getting on these bikes and getting out of the house.”
Bueche has asked the parish Office of Tourism to take the lead in promoting the bike trail and reestablishing its importance to the community.
Jeanie Andre, Office of Tourism director, said the parish’s tourism commissioners, who met the day after the jury’s vote of confidence, are thrilled about the pathway’s resurgence.
Andre said promotional plans already are in place as well.
“They host about six to seven triathlons here a year,” she said. “A lot of bikers that stay over love the scenic view around the lake. If this bike trail is going to bring in tourists, we’re all for it.”
Bueche said since the trail’s infrastructure already is in place, all that is needed are the signs.
“I’m working on the funding,” Bueche said in an email the day after the jury approved her plan. “As soon as the signs are up, we will be in business.”