‘Ranks High’By ANTHONY WARREN,
Museum Boulevard high priority according to CCID criteria
Jackson taxpayers will be spending nearly $2 million in new infrastructure funds to repave Museum Boulevard, while far worse – and far busier – streets in the city remain untouched.
The street is one of eight streets included in the “Capitol Complex Improvement District” (CCID) master plan.
Meanwhile, other streets in the CCID, like Old Canton Road and Meadowbrook Road, which are more heavily traveled and in far worse condition, are not included.
Rebekah Staples, chair of the advisory panel, said Museum Boulevard was chosen in large part because it serves two major museums and a state park.
“It’s not the most critical in terms of the condition of the street, but when you run it through our prioritization schedule, it ranks high because of the economic impact it could generate for the city,” she said. “The more sales taxes that are generated for the city, the more the CCID receives to invest in street repair.”
Projects were chosen based on several criteria, including “proximity and access to state facilities,” “stakeholder priority,” “immediate impact,” “economic and community impact,” “public health and safety,” “condition and level of service,” and “funding source.”
Streets that provide direct access to state-owned facilities, like the Mississippi Capitol Building or the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (MMNS), receive higher scores than roads that do not.
The plan was published recently and outlines how the state will use a special allocation within the CCID, a district that takes in a large swath of the capital city.
In it, the plan prioritizes eight projects, with the third-highest priority being Museum Boulevard, a street that is in relatively good condition and traveled by just 4,500 vehicles a day.
Other streets included were High Street, Lamar Street, President Street, Mississippi Street, North State Street, East Capitol Street and North Street.
The master plan was drawn up by Waggoner Engineering, AJA Consultants and Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons, with the input of DFA, the city of Jackson and the advisory panel.
Most projects include milling and overlaying the streets and repairing water and sewer infrastructure underneath.
The Museum project includes repaving a roughly 3,600-foot-section of the street and repairing curb, gutters and sidewalks from Riverside Drive to the end of the four-lane boulevard. Design and construction costs are expected to run around $1.8 million.
Museum Boulevard serves several state-owned facilities, including LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, the Mississippi Children’s Museum and Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
On average, the science museum brings in about 100,000 visitors a year, while the children’s museum logs between 180,000 and 200,000.
The boulevard itself averages around 4,500 vehicles a day and is in relatively good condition compared to other CCID streets.
By comparison, Old Canton south of Meadowbrook is traveled by about 7,200 vehicles a day and was rated in poor condition in a 2013 study conducted by Stantec Consulting Services.
That street serves numerous churches, the Fondren Business District and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s lower school.
As for Meadowbrook between North State and I-55 North, it is used by about 10,000 vehicles a day. It too was rated in poor condition by Stantec. Numerous potholes line the roadway, with several being cordoned off by orange cones.
Even so, MMNS Executive Director Charles Knight and Susan Garrard, children’s museum executive director are pleased Museum Boulevard was included in the master plan.
Garrard points to the fact that repaving the roadway will make it safer for visitors and improve the city’s image overall.
“The children’s museum and natural science museum are some of the top attractions and cultural institutions in our state,” she said. “To have a beautiful, safe entrance will make both of them more welcoming for local, state and national visitors.”
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba wouldn’t say whether Museum Boulevard should have been included in the plan, only that the city would “accept the resources that are on the table at this time.”
No timeline had been given for when the project would get under way. The state recently issued a request for qualifications for design firms for all CCID projects.
Lawmakers established the CCID in 2017, to help the city offset costs for providing municipal services, such as fire and police protection, to state-owned facilities. State buildings are tax-exempt, meaning the city provides those services free-of-charge.
As part of the legislation, the state agreed to divert an additional percentage of sales tax revenues generated within the city to pay for projects within it.
Spending was placed under the purview of the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), and a special advisory panel was set up to provide input.
North to south, the CCID runs from Meadowbrook Road to Hooker Street and from Jackson State University in the west to the Pearl River and the LeFleur Museum District in the east.
A copy of the master plan can be found at northsidesun.com.