Southaven residents, when “taking a hike” is suggested, will soon have the longest pedestrian trail in DeSoto County to do so; and they’ll also have a bridge to cross when they do it.
It’s been in the works for some time, but the city of Southaven is moving forward with a trail to accommodate foot traffic, bicycles and such, that connects its two major parks, Central Park and Snowden Grove Park.
Along with the trail itself, the city has also moved forward on having a design done for a pedestrian bridge that will cross over busy Getwell Road traffic. The bridge would do two important things, said Mayor Darren Musselwhite in a media availability about future improvements in the Snowden Grove area.
“If you’re trying to make the city more pedestrian-friendly, the route is going to come through May Boulevard to get to connect,” Musselwhite explained. “It’s important for the quality of life but is also makes the city more economically attractive. There’s many people and companies, when they bring their employees here, they want amenities like that in a city. We are far behind.”
Musselwhite pointed out the 10-foot-wide pedestrian trail going through the expanse of Snowden Grove Park should be ready for use next year.
Much of the walking trail has been covered by grant money, Musselwhite explained.
“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,” Musselwhite wrote in his “Mayor’s Report” blog. “This trail will route from Central Park southward on Tchulahoma to May Blvd. and will finally be under construction in 2020.”
Money for the Snowden Grove Park trail comes from Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO, funding. Musselwhite explained the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) would make traffic adjustments for a safe crossing on Goodman Road and the city would cover the cost of the pedestrian bridge.
The mayor explained the city can handle that cost.
“The city is about to remove an extremely large amount of debt in the original debt that built Snowden Grove Park; it will be paid for in 2020,” said Musselwhite. “So, we have a large amount of free debt service that’s available. We’re freeing up about $2.6 million in debt service, so we’re able to do this project along with Fire Station 5 and several other capital improvement plans and still reduce debt for the city and improve the city’s net financial position.”
Pre-bid estimates on the bridge were set between $1.2-$1.6 million. Musselwhite added the money is a continued investment in a rapidly growing area of the city.
“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 mayor said. “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.”
He expects the Getwell Road area will become an entertainment district that Southaven has not had before.
The bridge is in a design stage and still some months away from actual construction.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.