Starkville could begin repaving Main Street as early as 2022.
Because Main Street has not been repaved in roughly 20 years, Mayor Lynn Spruill said she believes now is the time to take action and upgrade Downtown Starkville’s primary street. After the board of aldermen approved a proposal Aug. 17 for Kimley-Horn Landscape Architect Henry Minor to create a layout for Main Street, Minor presented a preliminary design to the board at its work session Friday.
The main goals of this design, Minor said, are to prioritize the pedestrian experience and create more outdoor space, especially for businesses.
“When we were given the charge (by Spruill) that this project needed to be something that really transformed the environment and the experience of this downtown corridor — all the way from Montgomery on the right to City Hall,” Minor said.
If the board were to approve this plan, much of the street would be compressed, with turning lanes eliminated. The purpose of this would create a larger “pedestrian zone” which would encourage individuals to walk or bike along Main Street and give businesses the opportunity to set up outdoor seating or spaces.
“The reason that is so important is we’re taking the curb and gutter line that’s on the street today, and we’re going to bring it in five feet,” Minor said. “ … What we’re proposing along this stretch in the heart of downtown, is to bring in the curb and gutter about five feet on each side … that’s kind of the key dimension we’re trying to achieve.”
This design would eliminate the right turn lane on Montgomery Street to better align traffic lanes and ensure more efficient travel. The intersection at Lafayette Street would be elevated to the same level as the sidewalk, and the entire section in front of City Hall would also be elevated to create a gathering area with the intention of boosting economic development and encouraging more businesses to come downtown, Minor said.
Trees would line the edge of Main Street and lights would be strung, much like the lights that currently occupy Lafayette Street.
Much of the slanted parking would be changed to parallel parking to allow for the larger sidewalks. Larger parking spots would also be installed for food trucks and unloading areas for delivery trucks. The total loss of parking spots would be approximately 45 spaces.
Ward 5 Alderman Beatty expressed concern for the loss of parking, citing that minimal parking is already an issue for downtown.
“I think over 40 spaces gone is a loss,” Beatty said. “… to me, that’s something we need to look at.”
Minor said much of the layout mirrors the design for the construction that will soon begin on Highway 182. The Highway 182 plan will revitalize the segment of the highway between Long Street and Old West Point Road. A U.S. Department of Transportation Build Grant will pay for 80 percent of the estimated $12.66 million project.
Because this design was a preliminary discussion, the board will not vote on approval for this layout for a while, Spruill said. She said if the board approves this particular project, it would cost the city nearly $6 million.
Spruill said she also wants to work with Starkville Utilities General Manager to create a new water and sewer plan within the road design to initiate better water flow to residential and commercial entities. She said she would love to move forward with the plan next year but knows the city needs to take proper steps before proceeding.
“This is an opportunity to see what they came up with and see what the ramifications would be. If we want to move forward with this, we would have to figure out funding,” Spruill said. “The Main Street folks would have to be party to it. This is an initial look at how we can make our community and our downtown much more vibrant and how we can look at it going forward in the next 30, 40 years.”