Better, smoother, safer travel is the goal of Starkville’s roadway improvement plan, which has invested $5 million in bond funds to resurface some of Starkville’s busiest thoroughfares.
“Our engineering and street departments are continuously looking for better ways to maintain and enhance city roads that serve thousands of travelers and commuters every day,” said Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill. “It’s all part of serving Starkville’s current and future needs using a proactive approach to infrastructure planning.”
City Engineer Cody Burnett explained how engineers are employing data-driven solutions to enhance and maintain approximately 300 lane-miles of roadways throughout Starkville. The plan is to use a variety of pavement treatment and preservation methods to extend the overall quality of the roadway network, reducing the need for costly repairs.
Starkville currently uses a “mill-and-fill” paving process in which crews remove the top 1.5-inch layer of road surface and replace it with new asphalt. While it adds 10 to 15 years of life and extends the road’s drivability, it’s one of the most expensive roadway maintenance approaches, generally costing up to $450,000 for one mile of two-lane road.
That’s why the Engineering Department has been researching other preservation methods that are more economical and can be equally as effective when used in the appropriate context. These include sealing cracks in asphalt and applying a “fog seal,” which seals the entire roadway. Most preservation methods prevent moisture from seeping through asphalt, effectively protecting the underlying roadway structure and preventing potholes.
To support planning activities for pavement management, engineers are creating a complete, data-driven analysis of Starkville’s entire street network to ensure that the appropriate treatment method is used based on a specific roadway’s condition.
“The goal is to inject more life into the roadway network than is lost each year, and many of these preservation methods can do just that for pennies on the dollar,” Burnett said. “We’re developing a tiered approach to roadway management that utilizes a variety of tools and allows us to know what type of treatment is needed for each road years in advance.”
Work done by Starkville’s Street Department also plays a vital role in extending roadway life and quality by filling potholes and repairing base failures on streets that need repair but are still years out from treatment.
In addition to making roadways safer and more drivable, planners are working to improve connectivity for residents, visitors and students. City engineers must consider all the ways people in Starkville get where they’re going—whether on foot or by car, bicycle, wheelchair or public transit.
Historically, the city has a successful track record of increasing bike-pedestrian connectivity, often with funding support from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Mississippi State University and Oktibbeha County. Crucial connections include a multi-use path from McKee Park to MSU, the Russell Street Complete Streets project, the Louisville Street multi-use path and the Collegeview Connector project.
Upcoming connectivity improvements include the Main Street revitalization project, the Spring Street Transportation Alternative project and the federally funded Safe Streets for All project aimed at creating safer streets for all modes of transportation. Additionally, the city is making sure its policies address new sidewalk connections in new development and redevelopment projects.
“These projects are focused on making vital connections between existing bike and pedestrian facilities and providing safer ways for people to travel using alternate methods of transportation,” Burnett said. “We are committed to making ongoing improvements that serve residents’ transportation needs and position Starkville for future growth.”
As the home of Mississippi State University, Starkville is always brimming with activities and excitement, from sporting events, concerts and festivals to vibrant Main Street dining and shopping attractions to the quaint and inviting Cotton District near campus. The city has evolved from one of Mississippi’s most scenic and historically significant locales into a dynamic and modern community that’s routinely named among the best places in America to live, attend college, own a business or retire.