Thursday, July 26, 2012
JACKSON After exhausting all other possibilities, the Jackson Redevelopment Authority will remove the Capitol Street ramps from the Jackson Place parking garage and build new ramps on the Farish Street side of the building.
The move comes as the city is working on plans to make Capitol Street a two-way street once again. For the city to do so, JRA must remove the ramps to the Jackson Place garage, which JRA owns.
Capitol Street is a now an east-bound one-way street from the intersection at Robinson Road to State Street. The garage and the ramps sit on the north side of the road between N. Farish and N. Lamar streets. If Capitol Street were two-way, travelers would have to cross west-bound traffic, heading east, to access the ramps at their current location.
In May, JRA board members said they did not want to remove the unsightly ramps only to replace it with others on Farish Street. They explored possibilities of building an internal ramp entrance to the garage from Capitol Street. That idea proved too costly, though.
In 2010, the state awarded the city a $2 million grant to remove and replace the ramps. Former Jackson Place tenant Parkway Properties estimated it would cost about $1.8 million just to prepare the building for an internal ramp. That would leave far too little money to actually build a new ramp.
An internal ramp would also eliminate some available parking and first-floor retail space.
A memorandum of understanding with the building's current tenant and manager, Hertz Investment Group, includes an agreement that Hertz will not seek compensation for loss of parking, unless the loss totals more than 40 spaces.
Despite a desire to eliminate the cumbersome external ramps altogether, JRA came the conclusion that all other options were simply too expensive. Wednesday, the board unanimously voted to remove the ramps and replace them with similar style ramps on Farish Street.
Jonathan Kiser of Neel-Schaffer Inc., the company that is designing the construction of the ramps, said the new ramps on Farish Street will be further apart than the current ramps and will not block the flow of traffic as much as the ones on Capitol Street.
The entrance and exit ramps to the parking garage located on Amite Street will remain.
City Preparing to Two-Way Capitol Street
Meanwhile, the city expects to finalize design plans for making Capitol Street two-way by the end of September.
Jackson has secured $6.5 million in funds for the project, including $3.5 million in federal earmarks that require a 20-percent city match. The city also received a $2-million grant from Mississippi Development Authority for the project.
The city must submit its plans for the federal earmarks to the State Department of Transportation by Sept. 13.
The city plans to replace or rehab the water and sewer lines under Capitol Street, between Gallatin and Lamar streets. It will also repave that section of Capitol Street once the water and sewer lines are completed.
The city will not repave the rest of Capitol Street for the project. It will paint new lines on the portion of the street between Lamar Street and State Street. To help create an aesthetically pleasing thoroughfare through downtown, the city will also install new signage and lighting along the street.