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Groups hope pop-up project improves Gertrude Ford Blvd. on Ole Miss campus

Two years ago, the Oxford Pathways Commission used the less busy summer months to try several different temporary reconfigurations of University Avenue in front of the Gertrude Ford Performing Arts Center to make the road safer for bikers and pedestrians.

This year, their focus is on Gertrude Ford Boulevard.

Pathways, along with the University of Mississippi Transportation Advisory Committee, will be doing pop-up projects along the boulevard to see what works, and what doesn’t work to improve the safety along the road for all users.

“Two years ago we did a pop-up on University Avenue and I believe it helped identify the need for the two mid-block crossings that were added later that year,” said Pathways Commission member Kate Kellum.

A pop-up project is where temporary materials — tape, spray paint, chalk, removable cones — are used to change the width of lanes, add or change existing bike lanes and crosswalks and reduce speed.

A recent speed and traffic volume study showed high vehicular usage and dangerously high speeds on a road that also experiences high foot traffic and connects to the main bicycle path, according to Pathways, which gained permission to perform the pop-up project by the Oxford Board of Aldermen last week.

The focus area will be between Manning Way and Alumni Drive on Gertrude Ford Boulevard.

The two groups will examine different treatments to reduce motorist speeds and increase the perceived and actual safety of people on foot and on bicycles. The project’s purpose is to clearly identify pedestrian crossings and establish protected bike lanes with removable, non-permanent materials, as well as evaluate the impact of the changes to determine effectiveness.

The two groups are working with the city’s Public Works Department to determine the most appropriate materials.

The UM Green Fund has provided a $5,000 grant for the pop-up project.