From a pedestrian walkway to additional parking, the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has launched a number of construction projects that will make their campus in Hattiesburg even more accessible and mobile.
Dr. Chris Crenshaw, Senior Vice President of Facility Planning and Management, points out that the projects are part of a long-term master plan for bicycles and pedestrians developed by a USM committee in collaboration with outside engineers.
“These projects – especially the pedestrian walkway project – help us provide convenient access for our students, faculty and staff, especially if they want an alternative way of accessing campus outside of their vehicle,” said Crenshaw.
Much of the work will be done on the western edge of the campus, with a focus on Montague Boulevard. A Mississippi Department of Transportation grant from the Federal Highway Administration has enabled the university to begin construction of a pedestrian walkway along the north side of Montague Boulevard from 38th Avenue to Ross Boulevard.
Crenshaw notes the grant will fund 80 percent of the $ 950,000 project that will provide students with a safer way to enter campus from busy 38th Avenue. USM is providing the remaining funds for the project.
“We have a lot of students who live in apartments on the west side of 38th Avenue,” said Crenshaw. “Currently they walk in the street when they cross 38th Avenue because they have no safe way to cross the area to get to campus. This way will give you a much safer access to the campus and we are very happy about this special project. “
Current projects include:
Extension of Montague Street
This work includes the demolition of the former printing center, which was not used for several years. When completed, the street will have a single lane extension that runs east to west in one direction behind the Power House Restaurant and connects Forrest Avenue with Montague Boulevard. The project also includes the addition of sidewalks and paid parking spaces. The planned completion date is this summer.
Crenshaw says safety was the number one factor in moving this project forward.
“Forrest Avenue runs between the Walker Science Building and the Johnson Science Tower. It’s essentially a dead end street that ends at the Cook Library or the Power House. We have vans driving down Forrest Avenue; We have students looking for parking and driving up there trying to make about a five point curve to turn around and get out again. This new lane will basically create a circular path around the Johnson Science Tower for vehicle traffic to help with traffic jams. “
Montague Boulevard multipurpose pedestrian walkway
The 10 foot wide walkway runs along the north side of Montague Boulevard, from 38th Avenue to Ross Boulevard (approximately 1,800 feet). The project is expected to be completed in October this year.
Campus Gateway North
The gateway is located on the corner of West Fourth Street and North 34th Avenue and is similar to the Centennial Gateway at the Hardy Street entrance of the Hattiesburg campus. The project should be completed this autumn.
“We always talked about the possibility of marking the north side of the campus,” Crenshaw said. “In this case, an opportunity has arisen that has enabled us to put a marker at this point. It will match the gateway we have at the main entrance to the campus and really just be a smaller version of that particular marker. The project also includes landscaping, lighting and a zebra crossing across 34th Avenue. “
New parking lot
Around 280 parking spaces will be created by a new car park on the corner of Montague Boulevard and Ross Boulevard. The project includes lighting, a sidewalk, curb and gutter, and drainage improvement.
Crenshaw says the current projects are in line with the university’s master plan to expand west to 38th Avenue.
“We have been fortunate to complete several path improvement projects in the center of campus, such as the Pride Field Pathway, Lake Byron Pathway, and Armstrong-Branch Plaza,” said Crenshaw. “With Montague being such a high-traffic area, there was a need to improve this area and improve the safety of the students taking this route to campus.”