Photo by Brian Winters
As of April, Southern Miss students have been told to steer clear of the road work happening on 31st Avenue near the entrance of campus, but the road should be finished by late November, according to the City of Hattiesburg.
The project, which was funded by the Mississippi Development Authority, began as a boulevard from Midtown into the entrance of Southern Miss, where students can both enjoy all that Midtown has to offer along with the amenities on campus. The $79,000 “Midtown Enhancement Project” was started under the previous mayor of Hattiesburg Johnny DuPree’s leadership, but truly broke ground on April 30 of this year. Since then, they have started a bulk of the work, which involved a lot of demolition.
Anna Webb, a junior social work major, said she is excited to be able to enjoy what Hattiesburg has to offer right at the edge of campus.
“As both a Hattiesburg resident and a USM student, I’m glad to be able to witness this project and I cannot wait for the turnout,” Webb said.
The project will better connect students, faculty and staff of the university to the District at Midtown. Not only will the project lead to Midtown and provide a great source of revenue, but it will also address the drainage issues existing near North 31st Avenue, according to Mayor Toby Barker.
“This project will make accommodations for the growing number of cyclists and pedestrians coming from the University Heights neighborhood onto campus,” Barker said.
Throughout the first week, many new students found it hard to navigate their way around the road work while heading to class. Mckay Eaton, a junior communications major, stated her concerns about the road work.
“It was confusing at first, not being able to use that entrance, but I’m happy that USM is making renovations to better the campus and improve resident life,” Eaton said.
Many are looking forward to what the campus has to offer and the excitement that Midtown brings. Students and faculty will be able to visit the nearby businesses whether for lunch or on breaks between classes.
“I’m looking forward to being able to walk from my class to enjoy lunch in Midtown at my favorite restaurant, Chicken Salad Chick,” Eaton said.
The sidewalk on the street currently goes from the crosswalk to the end of the Jr Food Mart and Bancorpsouth with the road closures, so students must walk around the road work to cross the street.
Emma Dyer, a junior criminal justice major, expressed her thoughts on the road work.
“It was pretty annoying trying to get to the criminal justice department from Sorority Row, but I also think a boulevard to Midtown is smart,” Dyer said. “I just wish the process would go a little faster.”
The new construction follows the recently furnished Midtown District, where restaurants and businesses like Pyro’s and Asian Cafe reside.