$1 million grant to transform 22nd Avenue

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Meridian is getting more than $1 million to improve one of the main roads into downtown.

MDOT just announced the grant of $1,194,358 for the 22nd Avenue Enhancement project.

"Look at the things we have going on there," Public Works Director Hugh Smith says. "Tourism museum, arts and entertainment center, we want to tie all that in to add value into our main corridor into downtown."

This grant will be combined with money the city previously received from MDOT and from the Mississippi legislature's special session for a total of $1.4 million. City officials say the funds will be used to improve the appearance of the roadway.

Right now, this project is still in the planning stages.

"There's some ADA issues, some trip issues, so forth," Smith says. "One of the goals is to eliminate all that. Another idea is to maybe even to add a median, just to improve the appearance."

"We are talking about possibly doing an archway right up by where the children's museum is to let that be a welcome to Meridian," Mayor Percy Bland adds.

"When you say 'Gateway into Downtown Meridian,' you want to make a statement," Smith says.

MDOT says these federal transportation dollars are for non-roadway types of improvements like sidewalks, multi-use paths, pedestrian lighting and traffic calming. MDOT will have to give approval on the project.

There's no timeline on the project at this time, but officials hope to have more dialogue this year and see bids from contractors.

"We're glad we cannot only use contractors but some of our own manpower and maybe partner with the county to push those dollars as far as they can go," the mayor says.

The Mississippi Transportation Commission announced $13 million in federal transportation alternatives projects throughout Mississippi. MDOT also awarded East Central Community College $708,297 for campus sidewalk improvements.