The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff received a $407,000 grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program to make the campus safer for students and create a pedestrian mall, UAPB announced Monday.

Funded by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, the grant is the second for UAPB and was the largest grant awarded to a state university in 2016, school officials said.

The money will be used toward Phase 1 of a pedestrian mall and related improvements to be installed on Kennedy Drive. The improvements are required in order to create a safe pedestrian-access corridor connecting existing parking north of campus to the campus core.

“It is to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly and secure because cars will not be driving through campus,” UAPB Director of Facilities Management Robert Wall said. “We will close Kennedy Drive at the entrance to University Drive.”

The first phase of the project should break ground in spring 2017 and be completed in less than a year, Wall said.

“The campus is growing,” Wall said. “UAPB is moving forward. This is one main piece in our master plan. We have more than adequate parking spaces for student and faculty members. We are currently running shuttles. There is more than enough space in the main parking lot.”

The pedestrian mall is the first step in accomplishing one of the key goals in the campus master plan by removing Kennedy Drive and providing improved pedestrian access, Wall said. The scheduled improvement includes pavement removal at vehicular drives and parking areas, installation of new pedestrian walks, pedestrian lighting, signage, landscaping, site furnishings and improved storm drainage.

According to UAPB, the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) provides funding for programs and projects defined as transportation alternatives, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities and environmental mitigation; safe routes to school projects; and projects or construction of boulevards and other roadways largely in the right-of-way of former Interstate System routes or other divided highways.

Agencies of city, county, state or federal government and duly incorporated private/non-profit agencies, who partner with local public agencies, can apply for these funds if access to the project by the general public is provided throughout the life of the project.

Wall said UAPB officials will meet Tuesday with Arkansas Highway Department officials in Little Rock. He said there is an architect lined up to make blueprints of the project. A completion date has not been set.