Mississippi On the Move

Jay ThompsonIn my last post, I shared some of my aspirations for the great state of Mississippi with regard to the advancement of Safe Routes to School initiatives around the state. Well, we are certainly off to a great start and we’re trusting that the momentum, the interest and the request for knowledge about Safe Routes to School will increase in the near future. The state of Mississippi is “On the Move” with safe routes improvements and community enhancement projects. 

The City of Madison, MS is located just outside the Jackson, MS area but is still considered a part of the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is small but is considered one of the highest income cities in the state. A great deal of development has taken place over the past 10 years, however with very little regards to Safe Routes to School initiatives. Luckily, this is about to change for the better. The City of Madison was awarded Safe Routes funding administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The grant included funding for non-infrastructure and infrastructure projects. The infrastructure funds are being used to install sidewalks, multi-use trails, traffic calming devices and bicycle racks in and around the Madison Avenue Lower and Upper Elementary Schools. Engineering plans have been finalized and the city will begin receiving contractor bids on June 12, 2012 at City Hall and estimate construction to begin this October, which will coincide with International Walk to School Day. Once this project is completed, they are anticipating applying for more funding to complete a second phase as there are several neighborhoods within walking distance of the lower and upper elementary schools that are in dire need of walking accessibility. 

A portion of the non-infrastructure funds have been utilized for outreach workshops with parents and children from surrounding subdivisions. The workshops were used to garner enthusiasm from the public about the benefits of the program, and to obtain feedback about concerns the children and parents had. Now that construction of the sidewalks is about to begin, the city is really excited about holding more workshops and events. The city is fortunate to have so much support from the parents and teachers, which shows the overall benefit of fostering a community-wide effort.

In future blogs we will speak about more infrastructures in and around the state of Mississippi. To join our network, contact me.