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Posted on November 20, 2019 at 12:00 PM by Darren Musselwhite
Connecting the paths…
As we continue forward with our plan to make our city more pedestrian friendly, we have the opportunity to complete potentially the largest pedestrian route in Desoto County’s history. Several years ago, the City received an alternative transportation grant from MDOT for a 10-ft.-wide multi-use trail designed to connect Central and Snowden Grove Parks. This trail will route from Central Park southward on Tchulahoma to May Blvd. and will finally be under construction in 2020. A few years later in 2014, the City made application for federal Metropolitan Planning Organization funding assistance for another 10-ft.-wide multi-use trail that routes throughout Snowden Grove Park. These funds were received this year and this trail is currently under construction with completion projected by year-end. In 2017, pedestrian lanes were added throughout Central Park with a crossing over Swinnea Road connecting to lanes added along Clarington Drive to Airways Blvd. near Baptist-Desoto Hospital. The only connecting pieces needed to complete this route are May Blvd. and a safe way to cross Goodman and Getwell Roads. Since MDOT has authority on Goodman because it is a state highway, they will make traffic adjustments there and the City is designing a bridge to be built over Getwell at May Blvd. to connect all of these routes.
Traffic safety and congestion mitigation…
Traffic safety and congestion mitigation are major concerns on Getwell, in general, but will become more so as the development at Silo Square and surrounding areas progresses. The traditional town square there will attract many pedestrians naturally creating a serious vehicle congestion problem when stopped while pedestrians cross Getwell to get to concerts and other park events. The bridge will resolve this problem.
An economic attraction…
Our city is far behind many in our country regarding pedestrian routes. Many citizens enjoy the quality of life afforded by walkable communities. This bridge and connecting routes will move us forward tremendously with this type of amenity. Connecting the pending business developments that include retail, restaurants, and hotels on both the east and west sides of Getwell with park events at Snowden Grove will create an entertainment district that our city has never had. All of this improves the economic demand of our city resulting in economic growth and benefits that will pay dividends to all of our citizens for many years in the future. More specifically, we envision this bridge to become iconic along with Snowden Grove Park and become a great marketing tool to increase tourism draw, and again, the resulting economic benefits that follow.
This bridge is currently in the design stage with proposed features similar to the ones at Vanderbilt University, the University of Missouri, and Foley, Alabama and will be built in compliance with federal safety standards for the utmost safety of both pedestrians and motor vehicles. It will be funded as part of a capital improvement plan with a general obligations bond. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, the City will have satisfied major debt obligations with one of the most significant being the original debt used to build Snowden Grove Park in 1999. Total debt-service (payment) reductions equate to approximately $2.6 million annually. Patience and sound financial management has put our city in the position to continue leveraging revenue to invest in our city’s future while still reducing debt and continuing to improve our net financial position. Projected pre-bid construction cost estimates range between $1.2 and $1.6 million. Construction is projected to begin in the third quarter of 2020.