MURRAY — At long last, it appears there is a conclusion on the horizon when it comes to the longstanding question, “What is going to be done about 16th Street near the Murray State campus?”
Tuesday night, in a special called meeting, the Murray City Council may have finally put that issue to rest once and for all. In that meeting, the council approved a bid from the Jim Smith Construction firm of Grand Rivers to construct three speed tables on North 16th, all of which will have accompanying crosswalks.
Councilwoman Linda Cherry was the lone no vote against 10 yes votes. Councilman Dan Miller was absent from the proceeding.
“This is one item we have talked about for years and years,” said Councilman Jeremy Bell, who had the role of chairing the evening’s meeting of the council’s Transportation Committee that came before the full council meeting.
The speed tables, elongated rises designed to force drivers to travel at very slow speeds, will be constructed at a cost of more than $215,000, with about $63,000 in engineering fees added. That money comes from emergency funding made possible by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
City planner Marissa Stewart said the Jim Smith bid was the only one submitted Monday when bidding for the project opened. She said Jim Smith was one of two firms that submitted plans for their bids and one of five that were contacted by the city about potentially submitting bids.
She said a factor in the low number of bids is that all bids had to be pre-qualified. Smith’s actual bid was for $281,833, which was actually over the allotted KYTC funding by about $600.
“That was based on it being for four speed tables,” Stewart said. “When you reduce that to three speed tables, we will lower that to $215,976 and we will work with (Jim Smith) about that. Plus, you have the engineering and inspection costs (an additional $63,000), so that will put it pretty close to what the state had given us in the first place.”
City Administrator Jim Osborne did say that all of the KYTC money must be used only on this specific project. Stewart said the remaining $4,000-plus will be utilized in some way.
The speed tables are slated to be installed during the upcoming Christmas break for Murray State students. This will also mean that other crosswalks on North 16th will be eliminated. The only crosswalks will be where the speed tables are constructed.
Cherry said she had some concerns, which is why she voted no. One she had dealt with how quickly emergency vehicles could travel North 16th and if damage could occur to those vehicles. Osborne said, from speaking to other campuses that have these in place, no damage has occurred.
The other major point of business for council members this week came on Monday, when they met in special session to approve the purchase of a property on North Fourth Street that will allow for expansion of the Murray City Cemetery.
The council voted unanimously Monday afternoon to approve the purchase of 623 N. Fourth St. for $200,000. This was after the property had started with an asking price of $295,000.
“It has been on the market for quite some time,” said City of Murray Administrator Jim Osborne. “There’s one home on the property and one guest house on the property for a total of between 5.5 and 5.6 acres that we would be able to use for cemetery plots in the future.”
Osborne said that talks had been ongoing for several months with the property owners, but the pace of those talks quickened significantly over the past several days. He said that with one of the owners being from out of town, and with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, a window opened that allowed for the talks to conclude.
“We had to juggle everybody’s schedule because it was one of those things where the one from out of town has authorization over the others’ schedules,” said City of Murray Attorney Warren Hopkins. “Getting all of our due diligence, it happens that we finished up on Friday.”