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Video: Columbus City Planner Proposes Highway 45 Makeover

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Columbus City Planner Christina Berry wants to change Highway 45 from what it is today, to an attractive corridor that will give the town an economic boost.

“What we’re looking at doing is revitalizing Highway 45 to make it more attractive to retailers and other investors who may be interested in locating on Highway 45. One of the ways we’re proposing to do that is creating an overlay district and what this district would do is it would look at improvements based on the sidewalks, bike trails, lighting, landscaping, etc to help make the corridor not only safer, but also to be attractive,” said Berry.

Highway 45 is the most traveled area in town with commuters constantly driving through. Berry says the improvements for the district will be paid for by setting aside “new” Ad Valorem tax revenue in a special fund to cover the costs.

“What we’re proposing to do is for all the new developments that come out on 45, take the proceeds from those new taxes only and put them into a special fund and then use those funds to make those improvements. So it’ll kind of work like a savings account. All the new money generated will go into a special fund and as that fund builds up, we can then use those to make those improvements however we see fit,” said Berry.

Several nearby towns also have overlay projects.

“If you look at the Barnes Crossing area in Tupelo, the area where the mall is, that’s actually an overlay district. You can actually tell because it seems very clean. The signage is being regulated, the landscaping is also being regulated. Those are things that go into policy that makes those things happen,” said Berry.

Berry wants the public to submit their ideas about what they would like to see. Residents we spoke to were generally happy to hear about the proposal.

“When you compare it to to other cities, you can see some cities have different things that are beautiful and I think it would be great for our city as well,” said Columbus resident Wendy Macon.

“If they could put in extra lanes, that would be good. But I’m not so sure about all those plants and street lights. I mean, I think the lighting is pretty good, but spending all that extra money on just those things would be a little wasteful in my opinion,” said Columbus resident Rebekah Jacobs.

City Planners are looking to get corridor boundaries passed by the Columbus city council before the end of this year. If that happens, leaders hope to generate tax revenue by 2014 and begin improvements as soon as 2015.

If you have any suggestions, contact Columbus City Planner Christina Berry at cberry@columbusms.org