July 12, 2017 10:37:22 AM
Officials will debut conceptual designs of sidewalks and bike paths that will connect south Starkville to Mississippi State University's campus during a 4 p.m. public meeting Thursday at The Mill Conference Center.
The lion's share of the almost $1 million project will come from a $795,360 federal Transportation Alternative Program award funneled through the Mississippi Department of Transportation, while the remainder will be funded through a 20 percent local match from Oktibbeha County, Starkville and MSU.
It will install 5-foot-wide sidewalks and 10-foot-wide, two-way bicycle paths that will connect bike and pedestrian improvements along South Montgomery Street to new trails running from Locksley Way to Spring Street, Blackjack Road and Stone Boulevard.
Tying to the Lynn Lane multi-use path, the project will also connect to the Starkville Sportsplex, which serves as a SMART Route hub that links together the university's on-campus and citywide public transit networks.
Project engineer Saunders Ramsey, of Neel-Schaffer, said field reviews are complete, and residents will have the opportunity to examine conceptual plans at the public meeting.
Input gathered Thursday will be added to the project, he said, and construction plans could be finalized this fall. Ramsey estimated construction will begin in the spring, and the project could be completed by fall 2018.
"If we can improve the way people get to campus outside of your usual vehicular traffic, it will have a positive effect on traffic congestion in that area," he said. "You can go from McKee Park now to campus, or you could take a left at Louisville (Street) and go all the way to Main Street, and then to campus. We're creating a really big loop with all of these pathways."
The potential project was first brought to the county's attention in 2016 by District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller. The county applied for the award as the lead partner, which was the first time Oktibbeha County ever applied for a grant through the Mississippi Transportation Commission.
Miller applauded the group effort it took to land the award, including the support provided by Ramsey, Golden Triangle Planning and Development District Project Analyst Phylis Benson and Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert.
"Transportation affects everyone in one way or another. It's nice that the grant opportunity from MDOT allows our community to benefit from alternative transportation," Miller said. "Biking is a very good alternative transportation, and it is beneficial to your health. It would be beneficial to have a bike-sharing program set up on campus and at other locations for people to be able to conveniently ride."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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