Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer
After months of speculation about plans for 16th Street, Murray City Council passed a resolution to ensure safer road conditions for pedestrians and traffic.
The plan is to convert 16th Street into a boulevard-style road with fewer crosswalks and a hedgerow to prevent jaywalking.
“As a council, we want to make the right decision,” said Dan Miller, chairman of the transportation committee. “We are all living in Murray and we all want a safe university.”
The resolution was sent to Frankfort, Kentucky, to be approved by the state in order to get the project on the highway budget.
Miller said Murray was favorably approved for studies on how to improve the street, so he believes that money will be allocated for the project because it is a top priority for the safety of the students and vehicular traffic.
The street sees 7,000 vehicles and 12,000 pedestrians daily, according to WKMS.
The city council began proposing suggestions about 16th Street two years ago, but there was never a consensus. City council members wanted to make the right decision because it is one of busiest corridors, and the council wanted feedback from students and community members before voting on a plan, Miller said.
Money was allocated to hire engineers to study different plans for the street to make it safer. Some of the ideas proposed were an over-under bridge and an alternate route circling behind the Biology Building on the Gene W. Ray campus.
The plan to turn the street into a boulevard-style road with fewer pedestrian crossings and a hedgerow will allow for sidewalks and bike lanes, said Tim Choate, engineer and project manager, in an interview with WKMS.
“I think the hedgerow is a good idea, but if they’re going to take out crossing walks then that’s going to make it more congested. That means cars are going to be stopped longer because more kids are going to be going through,” said Shelbi Brock, sophomore from Newburgh, Indiana.
Construction on 16th Street will not begin until the budget is approved and the council members and engineers meet more to discuss the final design of the resolution, Miller said.
He said the project will take time and nothing will happen tomorrow, but the council has a plan for the future. The street will not undergo construction until at least 2017-2018 because there is a lot that still needs to be finalized on the project.
It would be good to wait on the construction of 16th Street since Murray State is already busy with construction projects, but it would be beneficial to start construction for the safety of students, Brock said.
When construction begins, traffic will not stop, as just one lane will be closed off at a time. Miller said the street will not be shut down unless absolutely necessary.
The council is focusing on receiving the funds and approval from the state for the 16th Street project, and then they will focus more on the design and construction of the plan.
“The big thing tonight was getting the council all on board and passing the resolution to send to the state highway budget to say that we’re behind this project,” Miller said.