December 1, 2018 10:04:48 PM
Starkville is soon to begin work on a roughly $1.6 million multi-use path extension along Louisville Street.
City Engineer Edward Kemp said work on the project, which will connect the Lynn Lane multi-use path to Emerson Family School, could begin as early as this week.
The city applied for and received a Transportation Alternatives Program grant for the multi-use path extension in 2015, Kemp said, and has been finishing design and surveying work in the years since. The Mississippi Department of Transportation is administering the grant for the project.
Kemp said the new path, which will be just more than a mile long, will extend along the west side of Louisville Street from the intersection with Lynn Lane to Emerson. The concrete path will be 10 feet wide to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and other forms of transportation.
"We are going to accommodate several (Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit) stops along the way," Kemp said. "If you know that corridor, there's a lot of higher density low-to-moderate-income residences. We felt like it was a good candidate for the project to provide mobility options for the residents, as well as connect a lot of the points of interest that a lot of the residents of that area are already walking to, such as the Dollar General, the gas station and all the way up to Lynn Lane."
Starkville's board of aldermen has approved a contract with Columbus-based Gregory Construction for the project. Kemp said construction should be complete by July or August, with "a lot of substantial items" finished before then.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said Starkville has focused in recent years on expanding pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the city.
"I look forward to us continuing to connect those points around town, hopefully to all those points of interest and important points around the community," Spruill said.
Kemp said the Louisville Street multi-use path will allow easier access to Emerson, which hosts classes for adults and children.
"One of the rationales on connecting this to Emerson is there's a lot of adult education programming that happens there," he said. "This provides mobility options to that. There's also a recreation component as well, with fitness and exercise."
The project will also include a short sidewalk extension on the east side of Louisville Street from Academy Road to the Dollar General.
Other planned pedestrian access projects
The city is also preparing several other projects, including a multi-use path extension along Locksley Way.
Kemp said that project will extend the Lynn Lane multi-use path along Locksley Way and south on Blackjack Road to connect to Stone Boulevard and provide access to Mississippi State University. A portion of the Locksley Way project will also include a shared road and bicycle path that will be the first of its kind in the state.
Starkville is also in the early stages of selecting areas along Highway 12 to extend sidewalks with leftover money from its "Grand Boulevard" project for the stretch of Highway 12 between Spring and Russell streets. The state approved funding for the project in 2015, and Kemp said the original memorandum of understanding for the project was the funds would go toward landscaping or pedestrian improvements.
"The preponderance of the funds were used for landscaping once they were created," Spruill said. "But we have about $250,000 left of those funds that were designed to be used on Highway 12, so we're going to be doing sidewalks, and I think it will be an extraordinary chance for us to continue that same effort (of improving pedestrian access).
"There are lots of places on Highway 12 that have been well-traveled by foot traffic but don't have sidewalks," she added. "We're going to make that money go as far as we can and give people an opportunity to travel on Highway 12 comfortably and safely."
Kemp said the city will conduct planning and design work over the next few months to identify where it will build sidewalks. It will likely focus on filling in missing gaps for some of the sidewalk network that already exists along Highway and bettering connections to points of interest.
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