By STEVEN NALLEY
Starkville officials held a ribbon cutting to open an extension of Garrard Road from North Montgomery Street to Old West Point Road Monday morning at the extension’s west end.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said this extension will make it easier for firefighters and other emergency personnel to reach neighborhoods and other locations north of Highway 182. In conjunction with Reed Road and Pat Station Road, Wiseman said, Garrard Road and its extension enables travel from the Highway 12 bypass all the way to Highway 25.
“It was the last missing piece in an east-west connection through Starkville,” Wiseman said. “Prior to this construction, there was no east-west access anywhere north of Highway 182. You didn’t have one from city limit to city limit.”
The road extension had been planned since the city’s comprehensive plan was approved in 2005, Wiseman said, and has been under construction for at least three years. He said the extension is also the first new road construction in Starkville with a sidewalk along its full length, in accordance with 2009’s sidewalk ordinance.
Many city officials took a walk along this sidewalk or drove along the new road immediately after the ribbon cutting, including Wiseman.
“It’s a beautiful road,” Wiseman said. “It almost looks like the Natchez Trace, I mean, just the landscape of it. You can really do recreational walking up and down this sidewalk.”
City Engineer Edward Kemp said the city had worked to preserve the trees and other vegetation on each side of the road. He said the city has not yet cleared 60 feet of right-of-way it owns on the road’s south side, creating a barrier between the roadway and nearby neighborhoods.
“It also saved us money, because we didn’t have to clear away all of those extra trees,” Kemp said. “It was kind of a win-win.”
The extra space also opens the possibility of expanding the road to four lanes, Kemp said, but that is unlikely to be on the table for any time soon.