Brent Luis Escamilla with Simmons Erosion Control, smooths cement on newly-installed sidewalk at the intersection of Locksley Way and Lincoln Green on Thursday afternoon. The city, county and MSU are partnering to extend multi-use paths along Locksley Way and Blackjack Road to MSU's southern entrance. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
March 15, 2019 10:58:23 AM
Work has started on a $1 million project to build multi-use pathways from Montgomery Street to MSU's campus.
Oktibbeha County is leading a joint project with the City of Starkville and Mississippi State University on the extension of the multi-use path. The new path will extend from Locksley Way's intersection with Montgomery Street to Blackjack Street. It will turn south on Blackjack Street and continue to Stone Boulevard at the southern entrance to MSU's campus.
Saunders Ramsey, of Neel-Schaffer and the engineer for the project, said work started on the new path at the beginning of the month and is currently expected to be finished in August. Work started on the north side of the intersection with Locksley Way and Lincoln Green, where a new space for a new Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit system bus stop and a connecting sidewalk are under construction.
Once that's completed, Ramsey said, construction will move to the south side of Locksley way to begin installing the new paths.
The Locksley Way portion of the project includes a first-of-its-kind (for Mississippi) two-way protected bike lane. It will be eight feet wide and will be protected by a barrier, and will be built into the road, with a regular six-foot sidewalk beside the road.
Ramsey said the protected bike path was used in response to space constraints along Locksley Way.
"The Lynn Lane multi-use path is where the project starts," Ramsey said. "Once you get to Blackjack, you will have multi-use path as well. Along Locksley Way, there were right-of-way constraints and utility conflicts."
The path will also feature a two-stage left turn box for cyclists to use at intersections. It will allow cyclists to make left turns across traffic at intersections by providing a clearly marked point out of the way of motor traffic to wait until a green light or until the intersection is clear at a non-signalized intersection.
Ramsey said the project is funded through the Federal Highway Administration via the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
County Administrator Emily Garrard said the project costs $1,089,164, which is being divided evenly among the city, Oktibbeha County and MSU.
"It's particularly satisfying when you have a project that's a collaboration between the city, county and university," Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said. "That's when we're working at our best, when we're working together like that."
Spruill added the new path will connect to another joint project the city is leading between the three entities. That project will see multi-use path extended north from the intersection of Blackjack Road and Locksley Way and then east along Highway 12 onto MSU's campus.
County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer likewise praised the county's work with Starkville and MSU.
"The opportunity was there and we all partnered for it," he said. "Everybody kicked in and I think that path will be utilized for many years to come."
Trainer said he thinks it's valuable for the community to have a multitude of transportation options, including pedestrian and bicycle access. He said he'd like to see that access, which Starkville has focused on in recent years, expand out into the county.
"Hopefully we can expand it out into the county some," he said. "It can be taken for granted, but there are people with transportation issues out in the county, as well as in the city and university. If we can make things more connectible, that's better for everyone."
MSU Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck said in an emailed statement the partnership allows the university, city and county to continue to improve alternative transportation options for residents and students.
"This project not only provides a safe pedestrian and bike connection from one of the most populous areas of the city of Starkville to the south side of our campus, but it includes much-needed transit stop improvements along Locksley Way," Tuck said. "As we continue to plan for and invest in multiple modes of transportation, bike and pedestrian infrastructure from our core to the south part of our campus and into the city of Starkville is helping us reach long-established goals of our master plan and provides much-needed infrastructure in a growing sector of our campus."
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