MDOT TAP grant converts heart of JCJC campus

Written By: Teresa McCreery
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Date Submitted: 2017-11-27 20:46:35

ELLISVILLE- What was once a thoroughfare and parking area in front of Jones County Junior College’s C.L. Neill Student Center has been converted into a beautiful, pedestrian plaza with the help of a federal, Transportation Alternative Project grant or (TAP), through the Mississippi Department of Transportation.  More than $416,000 in grant money was awarded almost two-years ago to the college for a campus improvement and safety project with the help of the MDOT Southern District Commissioner, Tom King. 
“This (TAP grant) is a great program and it’s great to have a program like this because it helps campuses, counties and cities too,” said King. He also emphasized, “None of this federal grant money could go to highways or bridges. It is only available for projects like this. Eighty-percent is federal money and twenty-percent from JCJC or any other government entity that applies for a TAP grant.”

Overall, $571,211 was used to convert an area of College Drive, in front of the C.L. Neill Student Center into a pedestrian plaza with brick pavers, seat walls, scored concrete, landscape improvements and removable bollards. An added feature of the project included the installation of the JCJC logo at ground level in the center of the pedestrian plaza. JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith initially had the vision to improve the campus esthetically, more than 12 years ago.  To be able to see this part of the campus improvement project completed is a proud moment for everyone involved.

“It’s very nice to see it come to fruition. We’re thankful for the MDOT, Neel-Schaffer’s engineers and R& J Construction for their help in creating one of the best things added on campus in a long time. Students love it because there are lots of places to hang out and hold student activities. Also, it’s safer,” said Dr. Smith.

Student Government Association President, Alex Hickson said she loves the new plaza for numerous reasons.

“This means the world to us. We love this! Before the conversion, it was hazardous getting to lunch in the Student Center. Now it is so pleasant to walk in peace looking at the fountain and flowers. We love and appreciate this so much,” said Hickson.

As the ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the first phase of the pedestrian corridor project, R&J Construction has already begun working on the second phase of the project. JCJC received a second, matching, TAP grant to extend the pedestrian plaza down Dan Jones Memorial Drive behind the Terrell Tisdale Library, with brick pavers, seat walls, scored concrete and landscape improvements. The second phase of the project began last August and should be completed in the spring of 2018. An expected third-phase will continue the pedestrian corridor south on Dan Jones Memorial Drive and end before McClellan Hall.         


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