MURRAY — City of Murray officials said Wednesday that a sidewalk project that has been in the works the past few years is starting to materialize.
In the past month, two pedestrian bridges, the second of which is nearing completion, have been put in place outside the guardrail that lines the southbound lane of North 12th Street (U.S. 641 North) in the north portion of the city. The first bridge was completed about a month ago across a branch of Bee Creek just south of where Stadium View Drive meets Frontage Road.
As of yet, though, there is no sidewalk connecting those bridges. That should change soon.
“We could see concrete being poured starting next week,” said City of Murray Planning Department Projects Manager Marisa Stewart of the project that is worth right at $1 million. It is made possible by the city receiving a Transportation Alternatives Program grant in 2017, which is generated from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act that was passed by Congress in 2015.
“This will start where the current sidewalk ends near University Church of Christ and will end at Stadium View. It’s a lot of work to get one of these projects to this point and it’s nice to see it starting to move forward.”
This project will mean that pedestrians along the southbound lane of 12th will no longer face walking in the emergency lane of the street, something Mayor Bob Rogers said will bring him a little less worry.
“Accidents do happen and if you can reduce the chance of an accident happening in the first place, you make it much safer for people walking in that area,” Rogers said. “We’re doing this for our citizens.”
Rogers said he became excited in late March when he saw workers from Jim Smith Construction of Grand Rivers using heavy equipment to build the first bridge that features an elaborate hand rail across another branch of Bee Creek.
“It’s one of those things where you see this equipment there, you know something big is going on,” he said. “I was impressed with what they did.”
Rogers is in his first term as mayor after winning election to the office in 2018 and one of his major campaign talking points was sidewalks. Wednesday, he talked about some of the conversations he had with residents of the northern areas of the city.
“What I found out is that a lot of them are Murray State students who live in those apartments in that area,” he said. “I also learned that a lot of them walk to class every day (facing the 12th Street traffic).”
The ultimate plan of the project is for the sidewalk that will end at Frontage and Stadium View to extend farther north to Diuguid Drive, then snake west and connect with North 16th Street, eventually forming a loop that will allow pedestrians to have use of a sidewalk from the northern reaches of the Murray State campus to Diuguid, enabling walkers and joggers to have safe travels.
The city is accounting for about $200,000 of the TAP grant, which is actually funded through the state. Stewart said the rest of the project would need another source of funding, namely another grant.
“It appears that some more funds are going to be available this year,” she said, adding that the city will pursue those, and may be in a position to earn stronger consideration. “If you start a project, which we have, and you have a plan for the future, (governments) tend to look at that.”
Murray also has a history with sidewalk grants. In 2011, the Murray Calloway Transit Authority utilized the federal Bus Livability Program to secure a grant that amounted to more than $1 million. That resulted in numerous sidewalks being constructed in multiple portions of the city.