Major improvements set for historic neighborhood with $20 million federal grant

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 10:32 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson has received $20,000,000 through a federal grant to rebuild Medgar Evers Boulevard.

This grant was first awarded to the city back in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

The money is coming from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity - or RAISE - Discretionary Grant program.

This project will reconstruct a 1.5-mile section of the former highway into a multimodal, complete street from Medgar Evers Boulevard to the Woodrow Wilson Avenue/Five Points area on the south to Coleman Avenue and Ridgeway Street on the north.

“Our neighborhood has been here for over 60 years at this point, and quite frankly we’re still living in the same quality of life conditions as when the neighborhood was founded,” said Anthony Moore Washington, who lives along Medgar Evers Boulevard.

From improvements needing to be made to infrastructure needs, he believes this $20 million grant will go a long way in revitalizing his neighborhood.

It’s being called the Medgar Evers Boulevard Project.

“My neighbors deserve to live in a community that is commensurate to 2023,” he expressed.

Washington and dozens of other business owners poured into the Medgar Evers Library during a town hall Thursday night, detailing how they’d like to see the money spent.

Along with streetlights and road improvements, those who came out said they’d like to see more sidewalks added to the area, as well as a proper drainage system put in place.

“Let’s change the appearance of Medgar Evers Boulevard,” said Councilman Kenneth Stokes, who represents Ward 3. “Let’s make sure when people come from all over the world to visit Medgar Evers’ home that they see something that they’re proud of.”

Councilman Stokes said some of the grant money has already been spent on engineers.

Stokes said a drawing of what the proposed plan will look like, and it’s expected to be presented to the public sometime next month.

“Now we’re going to have our suggestions, we don’t want them to go and draw up and plan that this is what we’re going to do, and the community concerns are ignored,” said Stokes.  We want everyone to know this is a team effort.”

“We want our neighbors to benefit from what the federal government sent to them,” said Washington. “They’re citizens, they have a right to that money, and they have a right to benefit from it directly, so our quality of life, we’re expecting it to improve based off of that 20-million-dollar grant.”

These federal dollars require a match, which means the city has to come up with its funds to match the grant money.

Councilman Stokes said the match came from the one percent sales tax.

Stokes said he hopes to have the project completed by no later than 2026.

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