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December 8, 2017 11:15:04 AM
The city of Starkville will soon start reviewing plans to install bollard locations in a swath that stretches from downtown to the Cotton District.
Aldermen approved the project, which aims to provide the city more effective traffic control options for festivals and other events, at Tuesday's meeting. Bollards are metal posts that can be inserted into the ground to prevent or direct traffic flow.
The bollard posts themselves are portable and are not permanent structures.
"One of the things this does is free up more of our police officers," Mayor Lynn Spruill told The Dispatch. "If you've been to our events, you'll notice that we have cars parked to do the blocking. If we have bollards, those become unnecessary and we can have a wider spread and less use of those kinds of personnel and vehicle assets because we can use the bollards to close off the streets."
The project is estimated to cost around $50,000 and will be funded as part of a $7.5 million bond issue aldermen approved last month for road, sidewalk, drainage and traffic control improvements.
City staff is finalizing the number of bollards, but city engineer Edward Kemp said the city will purchase more than 200.
It's not yet certain how long it will take to install the bollards. Spruill said that depends, in part, on when the city receives its bond money. However, she said she hopes for visible signs of progress by the spring.
"It's not difficult, but it's somewhat complicated in the sense of timing," Spruill said, "because we have to get 811 to come out and mark and make sure we're not hitting power lines or putting holes in water lines when we're drilling into the ground. It will be a multi-layered process, for sure, in determining exactly where the holes go and verifying that we won't be damaging any of those assets that are in the ground."
Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said the bollards will provide Starkville a fair amount of flexibility in controlling traffic for events. The city has selected dozens of locations to install them throughout town. However, they won't all be inserted at the same time, and the number of locations presents a wide range of customization to direct traffic as needed.
"I think we'll have the most flexibility in the downtown corridor where you can block off one block at a time or even for big events like Bulldog Bash," Walker said. "We have events downtown ... from things like church events to Pumpkinpalooza and Bulldog Bash. I think this plan gives us the most flexibility for both large and small events."
Walker also said he hopes for the first phases of the bollards to be installed in time for the Cotton District Arts Festival in the spring.
"That's our next big upcoming event that we could target having those in place to see how it's going to work," he said.
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