County project to bring Mississippi’s first two-way bike lane


The county’s new transportation project will be an extension of the Lynn Lane multi-use path (picture provided by Neel Schaffer)

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

After delays, an Oktibbeha-led project will bring innovation and ease to pedestrian and cyclist transportation within the community. Part of the project incorporates Mississippi’s first two-way bike lane.  

Neel Schaffer Engineer Manager Saunders Ramsey spoke at Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday and at the Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday to give local representatives an update on the county’s new alternative transportation project. 

Starkville, Oktibbeha County and Mississippi State University all partnered together for the project, and it will provide pedestrian and cyclist transportation along Locksley Way and Blackjack Road.

Specifically, the new project will provide transportation along the south side of Locksley Way, continuing as it turns right onto Blackjack Road, then traveling southeast to Hail State Boulevard.

“So that will connect the Mississippi State campus all the way to McKee Park,” Ramsey said of the project.

The project is an addition of Starkville’s previous Lynn Lane multi-use path project. 

“If you’re not familiar with the project, it’s an extension of the multi-use trail and bike lanes from South Montgomery Street to Hail State Boulevard,” Ramsey said. 

The multi-use pathway from the Lynn Lane project stopped at the intersection of Lockley Way and Montgomery Street.

“The plan for the Lynn Lane multi-use path was for it to extend to Locksley Way,” Ramsey said. “However, early in the Lynn Lane path, we ran into utility problems and right-of-way issues. That’s why we terminated it at the Montgomery, Locksley Way intersection.”

The new transportation project will pick up where the Lynn Lane project left off, including new features.

PROJECT FEATURES

    •    A shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists
    •    A new SMART Bus stop
    •    Rest stops
    •    A two-way bike lane 

“The beginning of the project will be very similar to Lynn Lane. It will be a shared-use path for pedestrian and cyclists,” Ramsey said.

However, the project will also include new features. 

“In addition to the shared-use path, we’re going to introduce a new SMART Bus stop just before you get to the Veranda,” Ramsey said. 

The bus stop will be designed for both pedestrian and cyclist access.  

“There will be bicycle storage there and places for people to rest as well,” Ramsey said.

The project will also include rest stops along the roadway paths.

“There will be rest stops, which will include benches, shade trees, trash receptacles— things that you’d like to see along a multi-use path,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said the last feature of the project, the two-way bike lane, is its highlight, because it’s how the project overcame the initial utility and right-of-way issues.  

“Kind of the highlight of this project is: ‘how did we overcome the right-of-way and utility issues?’” Ramsey said. “The two-way cycle track that will be introduced— I know I’m proud to say this— will be the first two-way cycle track in the state of Mississippi.”

“We’re going to move the bikes onto the street, but we will have a pedestrian sidewalk and a backup curb,” Ramsey added. 

The two-way bike lane will allow cyclists to stay on one side of the street, similarly to a multi-use path. However, the bike lane will be within the paved street, protected by barriers.

The two-way bike lane construction will include safety features to prevent car-bike collisions. 

“Anytime there’s a conflict point, the car will utilize a green tracking pavement that will also have a texture to it and a color to it,” Ramsey said. “It will highlight those interactions between different modes of transportation.”

The multi-use path will turn into a two-way bike lane with a sidewalk after turning right onto Locksley way from South Montgomery Street, just past the Starkville Church of God.

“That really has to do with the width requirement for the multi-use path,” Ramsey explained. “It required 10 feet with a two-foot clearance. And just from about that neighborhood in Sherwood Commons past the Veranda, there’s just not enough room to meet those requirements.” 

The two-way bike lane and sidewalk will turn into a multi-use path again on Blackjack Road. 

“Just before you take a right on Blackjack Road, we’ll bring the bikes back onto the multi-use path,” Ramsey said. “And as it goes Blackjack Road, it will be a multi-use path.”

Ramsey also said the project has taken into account the Blackjack Road widening plans. Along Blackjack Road, the multi-use path will be further off the road in preparation for that project. 

Ramsey was visibly proud of the project when he presented it to the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a very good example of taking Starkville, which has very limited right-of-way and a poor utility situation, and coming up with a very creative solution for that pathway,” Ramsey said.

PROJECT TIMELINE

“We hope to receive permission to bid in the next 30 to 45 days,” Ramsey said. “Which means we will go into contract later this fall.”

Ramsey said project construction is aimed for the spring of 2019.

“Hopefully, we’ll get started before that, and I do anticipate a summer completion,” Ramsey concluded.

The project is funded by the Mississippi Department of Transportation via the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternative Program.

Category: