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Downtown Improvement a Tricky Proposal

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 03 Nov 2010 11:29am | comments
Capitol Street currently runs one way right up to the old capital.

Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran recent locked up nearly a million dollars to turn Capitol Street in downtown Jackson into a two way street. The 6-million dollar project is intended to make downtown a more welcoming place for people to live and work. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that it is an expensive and challenging proposal.

At Miller's Grill Downtown, hungry men and women in sharp business suits line up to order hot subs and pizza. This is exactly the type of business that a two way Capitol Street is supposed help. Cashier Tiffany Rawson welcomes the change.

“Be easier to get to. Be easier to see coming both ways. Most people don't even come this way,” Rawson explained.

But at a nearby copy shop, manager Bernard Fears thinks people are already afraid to navigate downtown and just one two way street wouldn't help.

“You going to make all of them two ways and then maybe it would be a little better. You know, when your turning corners and you go one way then you know you go this way a block and the street is going to go that way. Well, that is going to mess everything up when all the streets are one when then you get to this one and it is two way,” Fears said.

He worries about construction on Capitol Street and doubts it would lead to improved business. Meridian Mississippi successfully revitalized their downtown core but it has taken decades.

“You have got to develop momentum. And after you have several successes, than the next one gets a little easier,” McClure said.

John McClure, the executive director of Meridian Mainstreet, a major driving force for the project says it took early public investment to get the ball rolling.

“One feed the other and you get the classic new urbanism. People can work downtown, live downtown, enjoy entertainment and have some shopping amenities as well,” McClure said.

McClure says more than 90 new businesses joined their organization this year and banks are starting to get involved by offering low interest loans for businesses looking to open up in downtown Meridian

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Capitol Street currently runs one way right up to the old capital.


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