Concept agreed on for changes to heavily traveled road in Murray

Murray city leaders are closer to a solution to make a heavily-traveled road safer for your student. For more than two years, the city of Murray and Murray State University have been trying to figure out the best option to improve 16th Street.

Murray received $800,000 in state funds to do studies to come up with several plans. Most versions were scrapped after public discussion or city council meetings, but now one has stuck.

The Murray City Council unanimously voted to go with a boulevard concept last Thursday designed by BFW Engineers of Paducah.

Murray Mayor Jack Rose says he feels this concept is going to be something people can feel good about and will also hopefully be safer for the students.

“It will be much less expensive than the overpass, underpass, or closing it [and] going around,” Rose said.

The next step is detailing the concept, looking into details like how many crosswalks to have and lighting, but city leaders do know they want some kind of barrier down the middle like a shrubbery or fence.

“Try to put something in the middle that’ll be attractive, aesthetically pleasing, but also cause people not to try to jump it,” Rose said.

There are eight crosswalks. Rose thinks it will go down to three to five. They’ll also look into changing the speed limit or where the boulevard will stop and start.

The Murray Road Department conducted a study in 2013 that found more than 7,100 cars and 4,600 people use the road every day. Rose says 16th Street’s seen a significant number of minor accidents.

MSU senior Holly McNeil says the road can be a little hectic at times, especially during class time changes.

“The streets needed some attention for a while now. It’s been a little bit dangerous So, I’m really excited they’ve finally reached a decision,” McNeil said.

The improvements are budgeted in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet 6 Year Highway Plan for $8.5 million. Until that passes the legislature, the money is not a sure thing, but the mayor feels good about it.

If the project is funded, $1.5 million will be used in 2017 for lands acquisition and design work. The city will use the rest, $7 million, to start construction in 2018.

MSU’s student government has been heavily involved in the decision process. Murray State University Student Government Association President Clinton Combs responded to the concept with this statement.

“In regards to the Sixteenth Street concept proposal, the Murray State University Student Government Association is very pleased with the progress being made. From the very beginning, the City of Murray has worked hand-in-hand with the university, and we believe they will continue to work in the best interest of the students and citizens. The SGA supports a sustainable alternative that will promote the safety of our community, consider the future growth of campus, and is a good steward of state monies. We look forward to the continued involvement through the design phase of the project.” – Clinton Combs

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