By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The drive down Walker Parkway toward the Atoka Fire Station No. 3 is already decorated with large family homes, greenery, a park and well-kept lawns.
And after the visit of Gov. Bill Haslam last Wednesday to the Atoka fire station, the sights shall improve in the neighborhood. Standing along side State Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and state Rep. Debra Moody (R-Covington) and Atoka Mayor Daryl Walker, Haslam announced the Tennessee Department of Transportation was awarding the town a $399,619 grant for a new pedestrain and bicycle connection to recreational facilities.
“This project is part of a proactive initiative by Atoka to create a healthier, safer, more active, and more connected community,” Haslam said. “It is wonderful to see communities across the state creating a network of greenways, trails and walkways allowing residents and visitors to experience our cities and towns in new and different ways.”
Haslam addressed the gathering of Atoka aldermen, special guest and members of the neighborhood who walked to the check presentation about the dedicated effort of Norris, Moody, Walker and others in making the grant possible.
Another hand in the effort to get the money to Atoka was Tipton County Mayor Jeff Huffman.
“What this means is that you can take dollars and put it back into the community and have a direct effect,” he said. “You can drive down the road and see it. It’s a grant that allows you to build sidewalks, greenways, landscaping and street lights. It allows you to build a place that is unquie to Atoka. It sets your community a part from other communities. It creates a sense of place and that’s what these grants are all about.”
The nearly $400,000 will go toward Phase I of the Atoka Greenway-Pedestrian Neighborhood Connector Project. It will provide access to numerous recreation facilities and serve as a focal point for the community. The project is being developed in conjunction with several other park and trail projects that will ultimately connect at several locations.
The project includes a 10-foot wide path, native trees and shrubs, wayfinding signs and drainage improvements. New ADA compliant crosswalks will also be installed, along with pedestrian bridge crossings.
“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $294 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”
The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally-funded program formerly known as “transportation enhancement” and is administered by TDOT.
A variety of activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.