LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - USM Gulf Park is on the road to enhancing the beauty and security of the campus. A unique grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation will make the campus more pedestrian friendly.
It is the heart of USM Gulf Park. A serene green space that surrounds Bear Point Bayou. A new project will help enhance the beauty and safety of the area behind the Fleming Education Building.
On Tuesday, MDOT Southern Commissioner Tom King presented a $160,000 check to Gulf Park leaders. The Transportation Alternative Program Grant is the first of its kind for the Long Beach campus.
"We've had many projects on the Hattiesburg campus, the main campus with MDOT, but this is the first that I can recall for the Gulf Park campus, for the coast. So, we're very excited about that," said USM Gulf Park Vice President Dr. Steve Miller.
USM will pitch in about $32,000 toward the matching grant. The funds will be used to tear down and rebuild an aging pedestrian bridge.
"I know the bridge really has become unsafe, so it was time to be replaced. With the cost of construction, this was really a blessing to be able to capture this grant," said Miller.
The project also includes replacing the pre-Katrina sidewalks with redesigned concrete pathways and brick pavers. You will also see a new pedestrian crossing, seating, landscaping and lighting. Plus, a Code Blue emergency phone will be installed for added security.
"I'm the president of the Student Government, and one thing we hear a lot of when we hear issues from students is sidewalks number one, and number two is safety at night. I think this is going to be a really big improvement for our campus," said USM graduate student Zachary Stewart.
The improvements will start in September.
"As a graduate from USM, it's certainly an honor to be here and certainly an honor to award these folks a grant, and I know it'll be done well and performed well," said King.
The Federal Highway Administration provided the grant..The project is expected to be completed in April of 2017.