On Oct. 6, Mississippi State University broke ground on Bulldog Way, a road construction project intended to alleviate traffic on heavily used roads such as Blackjack Road, Hardy Road and Stone Boulevard.
The two-mile Bulldog Way will connect to the intersection located near the Baptist Student Union on Lee Boulevard and run alongside the Campus Trails apartment complex and connect to Blackjack Road. There will also be a connection to the road behind the Industrial Education Building as well as sidewalks, bike lanes and improvements to the existing traffic lights.
The contractor for the project is Burns Dirt Construction, a Columbus-based company with a history of working with MSU and Oktibbeha County, and the engineering firm in charge is Pickering Firm Inc. out of Flowood, Mississippi.
According to Nic Parish, Burns' vice president of operations and contracting for Burns Dirt Construction, the plan will be completed in phases since active roads will be replaced with most of the work being done in the summer while students are away.
"We will go through and clear and install erosion control in the coming weeks. We will install the north half of the road from working from Campus Trails north towards campus and then build that out. During summer break next year we will start the south half and get that built and the west half," Parish said. "It is not going to be complete until the fall of 2022 because we will have to complete so much while students are gone from campus, since we are replacing active roadways."
Parish said he wants students and residents of the nearby apartment complexes to be wary of the construction process.
"We want to stress to students that if they are walking from Campus Trails to the campus, be alert. They will be crossing an active job site. We will have signs to direct traffic and caution signs, but there will be guys working there every day," Parish said.
MSU President Mark Keenum stated in a press release his belief in the importance of the new road as an effort to curb the traffic on campus and in allowing the university to continue to grow.
"This project is crucial not only to alleviating current traffic issues but for the future growth and development of our Starkville campus," Keenum said.
MSU Chief Communications Office Sid Salter echoed this sentiment and said he believes the installation of the road will be useful for alleviating traffic on high-traffic roads for commuters, game days and other highly populated events.
"The Bulldog Way project will do a great deal to alleviate traffic at the center of campus and to assist a great deal with people commuting to and leaving from the university to go to Columbus, Macon and basically any route east. It will of course make game day and other mass traffic jam situations a lot easier," Salter said.
Salter also mentioned the convenience of the road for apartment residents and locals of Starkville and Oktibbeha County, noting the new road as an alternative commute for work and school.
According to Salter, the $7 million project will be funded using a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, or TIGER grant. The grant stems from 2017, and the project is a result from collaborative planning between MSU, a congressional delegation from the late U.S. Senator Thad Cochran and the Mississippi Department of Transportation located in Jackson, Mississippi.