- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Tupelo leaders have submitted an application for a grant they say would make the city more pedestrian friendly.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (https://bit.ly/20dXoQB ) the city proposes the construction of paved, handicapped accessible pedestrian crossings at four railroad intersections. The construction of the crossings would allow the city to link stretches of already existing sidewalk.

“This is about connectivity,” said Tupelo’s Director of Development Services Shane Hooper. “The railroads have cut the city up into different pieces, and this project is about putting those pieces back together.”

Mayor Jason Shelton identified accessibility to foot traffic as an ongoing focus of his tenure.

“Under (former Mayor Jack Reed’s) administration, the city began to focus more on being pedestrian friendly,” Shelton said. “And we have tried to continue that.”

He said improved pedestrian pathways benefit exercise, foot traffic and other uses. The mayor pointed to the Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail, the Music Bend Nature Trail, as well as construction of new sidewalks on North Gloster Street and a project near Thomas Street Elementary School funded by a Safe Routes to School grant.

“Eventually we will have a trail system that allows you to walk or bike throughout the entire city,” Shelton said.

The total project cost is estimated by Hooper to be about $2.1 million. The city is seeking up to $1.5 million in grant funds through the Transportation Alternatives Program of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, with the remaining $600,000 covered by local government.

Four crossings would be upgraded if the city received and accepted the grant.

The project would see the installation of sidewalks on each side of the railroad crossings and thereby connect already existing sidewalks. The scope of work would also include the placement of crossing arms, flashing lights and a smooth walking surface between the actual tracks.

The proposed crossings would be compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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