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City, county, MSU eyeing sidewalk expansions



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Alex Holloway



The city of Starkville, Oktibbeha County and Mississippi State University are partnering to seek grant funding for three multi-use path extensions in the city and onto MSU's campus. 


City aldermen authorized applying for a Transportation Alternatives Project (TAP) grant last week, with support from Oktibbeha County's board of supervisors and the university. The grant application, which is due by the end of the month, is seeking funding for an estimated $2.1 million project. That cost includes construction, engineering, inspection and contingency costs. 


The Mississippi Department of Transportation administers the TAP program. 


If approved, the grant would provide $1.5 million in federal funds for the multi-use path extensions. The grant has a 20-percent local funding match, which would be approximately $600,000, making each entity's share about $200,000. 


City Engineer Edward Kemp said the linkages will use 10-foot wide multi-use paths, similar to the Lynn Lane multi-use path. 


"We're looking at connections with existing infrastructure that's already there to make it better connected and provide better access for people," Kemp said. 


The three proposed linkages total about 6,832 linear feet of new multi-use paths. One path would connect the Lynn Lane multi-use path north from along the west side of Blackjack Road from its intersection with Locksley Way to another sidewalk at Blackjack Road's intersection with Lincoln Green. 


Another proposed linkage would extend a multi-use path east from the Blackjack Road-Highway 12 intersection to provide access to MSU's campus along Bully Boulevard. 


The third linkage calls for a path north from the Blackjack Road-Stone Boulevard intersection into MSU's campus. 


Kemp said there's no specific timeline on when grant announcements are made. However, he added he anticipates finding out if the grant's awarded within one to two months. 


Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said she's excited not only to pursue the grant, but to do so in partnership with the county and MSU. 


"I have long said we're at our best when working together," Spruill said. "This benefits all three entities and it's good that we all have the same sense to work together." 


The grant is the continuation of a push from the city in recent years to expand pedestrian access to new areas. Spruill said she believes it's incumbent on the city to accommodate as many modes of transportation, including bicycling and walking, as possible. 


"This is a quality of life issue that the board has very strongly backed, and I believe will continue to back in the future," she said. 


Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said he was pleased with the chance to work with the city and university on the project. 


"This is a great investment," he said. "These types of opportunities don't come often, so when they do, you have to take advantage of them. The significance of them will far outlast the board, in terms of the usefulness they provide." 


MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter also lauded the effort. 


"Maintaining safe and effective pedestrian access to the MSU campus is a longstanding priority of the university," he said. "While these proposals remain under review, the university is grateful to Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert and to our partners in Oktibbeha County and Starkville local governments as we progress in this venture. Ultimately, we believe this to be a winning combination for community growth and development."




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