3Qs: Greg Pirkle, Major Thoroughfare Committee chairman

PIRKLE

PIRKLE

In recent days a Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Program project 11 years in the making came to fruition with the opening of the first portion of West Barnes Crossing Road. Thoroughfare Committee chairman Greg Pirkle answered questions from the Daily Journal’s Joe Rutherford about what’s next for the MTP.

Q. You and other Major Thoroughfare Program leaders cut the ribbon July 21 on the first phase of the $26,846,815 Northern Loop – West Barnes Crossing Road. The other part of the new road will open within a few weeks. What is the next major project in MTP?

A. The Major Thoroughfare Program’s current project is improving East Main Street from Veterans Boulevard to Highway 45. It includes road improvements and bridge widening. It is a quasi-partnership with MDOT which has given the city of Tupelo a grant for walking paths, bike paths and changes to Main Street through downtown. The cost to the Major Thoroughfare Program is about $12 million. The committee has recommended that the City Council accept the bid on the project.

Q. Looking in the longer term, what do you foresee for MTP that’s in the conceptual and/or consideration phase, and when is the next referendum?

A. The committee currently is working with an engineering firm to assess the future road needs for the city of Tupelo. We think that study will be complete by the end of this year, and the committee will use the study in making recommendations for the next five-year phase which will be voted on in 2016.

Q. What is the total investment for all projects so far, and have they proven fully worthwhile?

A. With the completion of the current project on East Main, the City will have spent $95.5 million on its roads through the Major Thoroughfare Program. The impact of that expenditure on our city is staggering. It has improved our commutes, our quality of life, our tax base, our business growth and our safety. All of those are direct results of those projects. So my response is yes, they have definitely proven fully worthwhile.