U.S. Senator Thad Cochran announced that Mississippi State University will be receiving a $7 million federal transportation grant to develop an approximately two-mile multimodal corridor on Hightower Road.
The 2017 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Mississippi State proposed this multimodal project to help alleviate gridlock and improve safety for students, faculty, visitors, and Starkville residents,” Cochran said. “I’m pleased that the Department of Transportation will invest in this project, which will improve the overall quality of life for the Starkville and Oktibbeha County community.”
Cochran, who has served as chairman of the Senate appropriations committee, recommended the project last October in a letter to transportation secretary Elaine Chao. The project also received the strong support of U.S. Senator Roger Wicker.
“As Mississippi State University continues to grow, existing roads around campus have struggled to keep up with the increase in traffic,” Wicker said. “I enthusiastically endorsed this TIGER grant application to help ease congestion for Starkville residents and provide a safer, more accessible route on the east side of campus for the university’s students, faculty, and visitors.”
The grant will allow Mississippi State to develop the Hightower Road Corridor Project, a north-south passage that incorporates sidewalks, bike lanes, transit shelters, traffic signal improvements, and street lighting on the eastern perimeter of the university campus. The enhancements would be ADA compliant.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum said he appreciated the support of Senators Cochran and Wicker in helping MSU receive the grant.
“The Hightower Road project is crucial not only to alleviating current traffic issues but in the future growth and development of our Starkville campus,” Keenum said. “We thank Senators Cochran and Wicker for their tireless work in moving this project forward.”
Congress annually appropriates funding for TIGER grants, which are awarded on a competitive and matching fund basis, and are directed toward projects that are expected to have a significant economic impact. Since 2009, Mississippi has received nearly $100 million in TIGER funds.
Congressional appropriators are now in negotiations to set TIGER funding for FY2018. The Senate Appropriations Committee in July 2017 approved a bill recommending $550 million for TIGER grants in FY2018, $50 million more than the FY2017 funding level.