Construction crews are about a quarter of the way through the process of building a sidewalk that will connect the Riverwalk to the Columbus Soccer Complex.
The new 900-plus-foot-long, 10-foot-wide trail will extend under the Highway 82 bypass and then over a boardwalk and two bridges before ending in a cul de sac next to Coretta Street. A small additional section of concrete will veer from the end of the path and into the soccer complex.
The $600,000 project, $480,000 of which is being provided by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the remainder matched by local funds, will provide a more pedestrian-friendly option than what exists now, Kevin Stafford of engineering firm Neel-Schaffer said.
“When it’s all said and done, it’s going to be a nice aesthetic walking trail,” Stafford said. “When we have big events at the Riverwalk, people will park at the soccer complex and anywhere else and walk across Main Street. The goal of this is to get them to use this to get into the Riverwalk instead of using Main Street. It’s just a safer way to go.”
The project is the largest and most important of three that the city of Columbus and Lowndes County have applied for grants to fund. Applications for two unrelated trails that would be at the soccer complex were not granted by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, but the renderings for them are on stand-by in case future state funding is allotted for them, Stafford said.
Weather’s Construction is overseeing construction. Stafford said the crew is on pace to be done with the sidewalk in January.
They’ve been on the job for about four weeks now. Runners or walkers who pass alongside the construction right now would see that the trail has been cut and that a natural sub base has been laid down on the Coretta Street side of the path. Crews will soon lay down about six inches of limestone base material before coming over the top of it with four inches of concrete.
Plans for the pedestrian connection predate construction of the soccer complex, which began in 2011, Stafford said. Columbus Lowndes Recreation Authority Director Roger Short said the nine-field complex has been the catalyst for additional recreational options in downtown to take shape.
“Since the soccer complex became a reality, a lot of these other things have moved pretty quickly,” Short said. “When you start putting them all together, they may not be big projects, but they enhance one another. You start putting it together and it’s pretty attractive.”
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.