By STEVEN NALLEY
The city of Starkville will hold a public meeting in the second-floor meeting room of the Starkville Sportsplex Monday at 5:30 p.m. to present results of a traffic study of South Montgomery Street and obtain input from citizens.
The city commissioned the consulting firms of Smith Seckman Reid, Inc. and Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. to evaluate a 2.7-mile section of South Montgomery Street stretching from Poor House Road to Academy Road.
City Engineer Edward Kemp said the city authorized his department to select a proposed consultant on Dec. 21, 2010, but it took some time to execute the contract. The project was also delayed from May until late August and September to get traffic counts while school was in session, Kemp said, and not solely because of Academy Roadâ€™s namesake, Starkville Academy.
â€śStarkville Christian School, Starkville High School, any major point of interest near South Montgomery or off of South Montgomery is going to generate traffic,â€ť Kemp said. â€śThereâ€™s a lot of traffic going to the MSU campus from South Montgomery, too. Thereâ€™s a lot more traffic generally during the school year than in the summer months.â€ť
At the Dec. 21 meeting, Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker said he had wanted to address the problem since his campaign started. He said he envisioned South Montgomery Street widening to three lanes with paths for pedestrians and cyclists, but he and his fellow board members wanted engineers to make their own conclusions about the best solutions to traffic issues.
â€śWe need to do something to get bikers and pedestrians away from the South Montgomery traffic,â€ť Parker said. â€śThey have as much of a right to the road as a car, but it is dangerous.â€ť
To determine how much property the city might need to purchase to widen the street, plans in December called for a right-of-way study to wait until after the public meeting, but Kemp said the firms have already conducted preliminary right-of-way studies which will be included in their final report to the board of aldermen.
â€śThe next step, if the board chooses to go forward, would be to actually do the design of the project,â€ť Kemp said. â€śThat would include further right-of-way studies.â€ť
The city will provide attendees at the public meeting with information sheets and comment cards, and it will also present alternatives for improvement for the public to review and consider. The public meeting does not mark the end of the study, Kemp said.
â€śPart of the study is to get input from the public,â€ť Kemp said. â€śThey will take all the input and incorporate that into their final recommendations, and theyâ€™ll be presenting that to the board of aldermen, probably next month. I would just encourage everybody if they can to come hear the recommendations and provide feedback. This is a big component of the study.â€ť