By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Schoolchildren, bicyclists and motorists may all benefit from a $531,000 windfall that the city of Oxford will receive from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
The city has until May 28 to provide a 20 percent match and to finalize approval of the funds’ allocation. Aldermen met Monday at a special meeting and identified two priority projects.
As currently approved, about $110,000 is to go for sidewalks along Sisk Avenue from Bramlett Boulevard to the state Highway 7 right-of-way to accommodate students walking from Della Davidson Elementary School.
“Not knowing what’s going to happen with that development on the other side of Highway 7, we didn’t want to go any further,” said Bart Robinson, Oxford’s director of public works.
The area east of the highway is being considered for the relocation of both Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and Oxford High School, either of which could require a redesign of the Sisk Avenue interchange to accommodate the additional traffic.
Most of the remaining funds will go toward improving nearby Park Avenue.
“We’ll put in a sidewalk, curbs, gutters, storm drains and bike lanes,” Robinson said. He added that there is “an outside chance” that the proposed project could include lessening some of the steep slopes on the avenue.
Alderman-at-Large John Morgan and Ward 3’s Janice Antonow voted against the Park Drive allocation, favoring that the MDOT windfall be used toward a long-awaited project to build roundabouts at the interchange of Old Taylor Road and State Highway 6/U.S. Highway 278.
No consensus emerged, either, for a proposal to build a sidewalk on South Lamar Boulevard between the Highway 6/278 roundabout and Baptist Memorial Hospital’s current location.
Morgan said because new information has emerged on some projects and because only five of seven aldermen were present Monday, he “wouldn’t be surprised” to see a motion to reconsider at the board’s next regular meeting on Tuesday.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.