Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Friday, September 20, Mayor Toby Barker was joined by Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George, University of Southern Mississippi President Dr. Rodney Bennett, Forrest County District 5 Supervisor Chris Bowen, House District 102 State Representative Missy McGee and representatives from The University of Southern Mississippi to discuss the construction of an 8-foot multi-use path on North 38th Avenue to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
The pathway’s construction, which began earlier in the summer, will connect Hardy Street to the Longleaf Trace, just east of the 38thAvenue and West 4thStreet intersection. It will provide students and residents safer access to businesses, shops and restaurants on and between West 4thStreet and Hardy Street.
“It has been a long process to acquire the property and funds needed to make this project happen,” said Councilman George. “I am excited to see progress in Ward 1 and know this is just the start of enhancing the Southern Heights neighborhood and transforming the western boundary of the Southern Miss campus,” said George.
In late 2017, Councilman George brought this project forward as his primary budget request for Ward 1. Over the course of two years, the Council set aside funding for most of the project’s budget. Additional funds were provided by the Forrest County recreation budget by District 5 Supervisor Chris Bowen.
However, it was the addition of state funding that allowed the project to finally move forward. During the special legislative session in summer 2018, Representative Missy McGee and other legislators advocated for and secured $100,000 from the BP settlement, specifically targeted for 38thAvenue.
“So many students, children and families travel N 38thAvenue by foot or on a bicycle each and every day,” said McGee. “This multi-use path will greatly enhance the safety and quality of life on a very busy corridor.”
“I want students and area residents to know that this is only the beginning for 38th Ave.,” said Barker. “Next year, we will continue to transform 38thAvenue in appearance and functionality. When you pair this with all the exciting projects going on at the University, 38thAvenue will truly become an asset to the Midtown area.”
The total cost for the project is $561,965.60 and is expected to be completed by February 2020.