June 9, 2011 11:51:00 AM
Starkville is a small step closer to the "Bullyvard."
As a consent agenda item, the Starkville Board of Aldermen agreed Tuesday to seek a $400,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant to be spent on conceptual planning for renovating Highway 12 around the intersection of Russell Street.
The "Grand Bullyvard" was a recommendation from the PlaceMakers planning firm when several representatives were hired by the city in May. The PlaceMakers'' vision included eliminating right turn lanes to narrow Highway 12 at the intersection while adding side access streets with much lower speed limits to facilitate shopping, dining and other developments.
The application doesn''t necessarily mean the grant will be awarded, and an award of the grant doesn''t necessarily mean the "Bullyvard" will be built, but Mayor Parker Wiseman said the project is one the city "would like to pursue."
Wiseman wouldn''t wager a guess as to the odds of Starkville being awarded the grant.
"I don''t know what other applications will be sent in from Mississippi or nationwide," he said. "If we don''t get the grant we''ll go back to the drawing board and determine how we might fund a study of the project."
If the grant is awarded, it will pay for planning, surveying and engineering, as well as providing cost estimates and possible funding sources to pay for the project. Wiseman said funding would likely be a mix of local, state and possibly federal funding. The Mississippi Department of Transportation would be heavily involved and the PlaceMakers recommended chasing some Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants through the federal government.
Wiseman said business owners and property owners adjacent to the highway may get involved in raising funds.
Building the "Bullyvard" would not be a short process. If MDOT agrees to alter its right-of-ways, the land will revert back to its original property owners, and Starkville would be tasked with acquiring that land through purchase or eminent domain. Zoning changes may also be necessary.
Applying for the grant is just the first move following the PlaceMakers'' visit.
"This is a very preliminary step," said Wiseman.
PlaceMakers designed the "Grand Bullyvard" as one of its suggestions for how Starkville can better connect its downtown to the Mississippi State University campus.
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