Plan to create Railroad District costs $16M
RIDGELAND- City officials continue to look for funding for a plan to transform The Railroad District into a central, walkable downtown for the city that could cost more than $16 million.
Director of Public Works Alan Hart said the city has not nailed down any funding for Railroad District West Jackson Street Master Plan that was approved at a specially held meeting in late January.
“At this point, we will continue to search for funding sources and make grant applications,” Hart said.
The plan was unanimously approved 6-0 by the Aldermen present at the specially held meeting at city hall in late January where a representative of Kimley Horn, a landscape architecture firm presented the plan to city officials. The city hired the Memphis-based firm last February for $85,000 to help with design details of the ongoing project.
The plan details eight projects. Some are projected to cost as little as $352,440 to signalize the intersection of West Jackson Street and Perkins Street, where the biggest ticket item tops around $5.87 million to create a “flush, curb-less streetscape with brick pavers” and other improvements to the streets and sidewalks in what is known as “The Core” of the project. Another feature includes a 900-square-foot pavilion to facilitate activities in the downtown area.
Each is designed to build a cohesive theme for the area as well as improve traffic, making the area more walkable, adding parking and establishing additional traffic lights, Kimley Horn representatives said.
Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith said developing Jackson Street as a walkable downtown has been a vision for city officials for at least the past 20 or 30 years. The Railroad District was officially named with a historical marker and plaque in November of 2019 at the Plaza at Old Town Crossing, which was named in the summer of 2014. Smith said an overlay district was established before that.
“It is very unique and very nice,” Smith said. “I think what I have seen will highlight the Old Town area.”
He said the next step is to secure funding, hopefully through state and federal grant money. Smith said the plan will give them something to show people.
“We have a plan we can lay out and show to people that lets them know we are serious and will do our part,” Smith said.