The Mississippi Department of Transportation has awarded a grant that will help pay for restoration of two alleyways between Catfish Alley and the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center.
Columbus and Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau officials applied for a $200,000 MDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant late last year. The CVB will match $30,000 of that, and the city will contribute $10,000 toward $160,000 in MDOT money.
Mayor Robert Smith said this will help establish the alleyways as pedestrian connections between the two historic areas with additional landscaping, lighting, signs and decorative railings. The project also includes construction of a stage.
“We were fortunate and happy that (MDOT) Commissioner Mike Tagert accepted our request,” Smith said.
Project engineer Kevin Stafford estimated the project would be complete early next year. The materials involved are not weather sensitive to the point that construction could not continue during late fall and early winter months, he said.
“This is the backbone of the vision that started with the CVB, the city and some other private individuals a few years back,” Stafford said. “One of the first things we have to do is acquire right of way in both alleys. There are three property owners involved. Before we ever started this process, we talked to all three. They’re all for the project. Two of the three said they’re willing to donate whatever it takes to get it done.”
Having the two walk-throughs renovated will be a boon for tourism in Columbus, CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter added.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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