About nine months ago, plans were announced for a multi-use pathway project for the east side of North 38th Avenue in Hattiesburg that would connect Hardy Street to West 4th Street and the Longleaf Trace, one part of a major rebuild of 38th.
With that project nearly complete, officials announced on May 28 a $1.2 million project for that rebuild, which will provide a landscaped median on the avenue, a stoplight at 38th Avenue and Montague Boulevard, new lighting fixtures along the pathway and repaving of the road.
“This street is more than a cut-through to get to from 7th Street or 4th Street out to Hardy,” Mayor Toby Barker said at a news conference at 38th Avenue Baptist Church. “Many hundreds of people live along 38th Avenue, and it is now the de facto western boundary of the University of Southern Mississippi.
“This project will transform this roadway into a full-fledged boulevard to accommodate the many residential units – both single and multi-family – the businesses, the church, the daycare centers, and of course our student population.”
Eighty percent of the funds were obligated from the federal and state Metropolitan Planning Organization, with 20 percent of construction and engineering paid for by the City of Hattiesburg from its dedicated road and bridge fund.
“Today is a very exciting day for our city, and especially this part of Ward 1 and the University of Southern Mississippi,” Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George said. “We specifically will improve the roadway and the look of this heavily-trafficked corridor and the western border of Southern Miss.
“Over the last three years since we’ve been in office, 38th Avenue has been a constant source of complaints from residents because of its poor condition, and rightfully so.
“I am confident that once this project is complete, it will be an asset to not only Ward 1, but to our entire city, and to the residents and the businesses that call 38th Avenue home. Personally, I could not be more excited to be here today and announce this project.”
Dee Dee Anderson, vice president for student affairs at Southern Miss, said the project will enhance the physical beauty of the area, and provide a safe passage for students, faculty and staff as they enter and leave campus.
“When students choose Southern Miss, they not only choose the University of Southern Mississippi, but they also choose the City of Hattiesburg,” she said. “And through projects like this, it strengthens our relationship, and allows us as an institution to help our students matriculate through their educational goals and to reach the top.”
Construction on the project, which will be conducted by Webster Electric, is expected to last through the end of this year. City Engineer Lamar Rutland will manage the project, along with the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
Neel-Schaffer will manage the engineering and construction processes.
The Forrest County Board of Supervisors contributed approximately $40,000 to the project through District 5’s recreation fund.
“This piggybacks on the back of a network of sidewalks we participated with, with the city, and with MDOT: South 37th Avenue, South 34th Avenue, Arlington Loop, J Ed Turner, and now 38th Avenue,” District 5 Supervisor Chris Bowen said. “This has just been the crème de la crème when it comes to this terrible virus that we’ve been fighting.
“It’s allowed our constituents to get out and get some exercise; it’s allowed people to commute to and from work and school. It’s beautiful to see people out on the sidewalks, and I think we were really forethinking being able to get out in front of that network of sidewalks. I wish we could have some more out there, but we will work towards that.”