STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Wednesday, the city of Starkville will hold an open house to let members of the public view the planned improvements for the Mississippi Highway 182/ MLK Corridor Revitalization Project.
“I do think that this is one of the largest, if not the largest transportation projects that the city has ever been a part of,” said City Engineer Edward Kemp.
After being Awarded a BUILD Grant in 2019 for just over $12 million, Kemp says they have been working on the design for the last nine months and are now ready to unveil the first draft of that plan to residents in the open house.
“The roadway corridor has changed,” he said. “All that heavy traffic is now located on the perimeter of the city and we’re trying to re-imagine what this corridor could be.”
City officials say the MLK corridor is an important business area for Starkville, especially it’s minority community. Mayor Lynn Spruill believes the upgrades could turn it into an economic driver, cultural connector, and improve beatification efforts.
“[The project is] intended to take our Main Street and our main, core business corridor for our downtown and expand it into that area in a very positive way,” Mayor Spruill said.
The plan is focused around three main elements; addressing the area’s problems with flooding and storm water infrastructure, upgrading the area’s utilities and aesthetics by moving power lines underground, and creating multiple sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, crosswalks and bike lanes to make the area as accessible as possible.
“I think it will transform it into a place where people wish to be,” Mayor Spruill said. “And if you want to have a successful business, you gotta have a business where people want to be.”
Mayor Spruill hopes the open house can help foster community excitement and engagement in the project.
“The people who are impacted and the people who are interested will have the opportunity to give us feed back,” she said. “Two minds are better than one.”
The hope is that the upgrades will attract other entities to invest in the overall development and growth of the area.
“I think it will be something everybody will be proud of by the time we get that shovel in the ground and get everything completed,” the mayor said.
City officials say the project has a current budget between $15 million and $16 million. Construction isn’t set to begin until 2022. The open house will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and 4 and 6 p.m. on the second floor of city hall. Masks are required to attend the event.