CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories
Crosstown work almost complete
By Marty Russell
After almost two years of traffic snarls caused by construction at one of Tupelo’s busiest intersections, work is almost complete on widening Crosstown and already officials are looking ahead to other widening projects in 1996.
Part of the city’s Major Thoroughfare Program, the $4 million Crosstown renovations are essentially complete and awaiting better weather for putting on the final touches.
“It looks like they’re about three weeks ahead of schedule,” Boyd Yarbrough of the city’s Public Works Department said of the contractor on the project, Hayes Construction. “On the roadside, all that’s left is the last portion of curb and gutter north of Main Street on the little island where the Tupelo sign used to be.”
The final paving of the widened intersection and the approaches on Main Street and Gloster Street will have to wait for warmer weather, however.
“We’ll have to wait for the correct weather on the paving,” Yarbrough said. “The temperature needs to be in the 50s. The material can be put down at temperatures lower than that, but the standard for the Department of Transportation is in the 50s.”
The Crosstown project consisted of relocating most of the utilities above and below the intersection, routing them either underground or away from the crossing to improve the aesthetics. The roadway was then widened to accommodate a fifth lane in each direction to serve as a turn lane.
Prior to the renovations, there were no left turn lanes at the intersection, causing traffic backups while motorists waited to turn.
New traffic signals also were installed on mast-arm-style supports to improve the aesthetics by concealing the wiring and serving as a mount for new street signs bearing the All America City logo.
The city has won the national All America City competition twice.
The fifth leg of the intersection, Carnation Street, was closed off and rerouted to come out south of the intersection on Gloster Street. That work is also complete but awaiting warmer weather for a final layer of paving.
A new railroad crossing and new crossing signals also were installed where the Burlington Northern Railroad intersects Crosstown, but the problem of the railroad itself remains. Crosstown is adjacent to the railroad’s switching yard, which often causes the intersection to be blocked while trains add or remove boxcars.
Moving the switching yard would cost an estimated $4.6 million and was not included in the Major Thoroughfare Program funding. The city has tried for years to get federal or state aid to relocate the tracks but has been unsuccessful thus far.
“We’re still trying to get some money to relocate it but there’s really nothing confirmed,” Yarbrough said.
Meanwhile, the city is moving on to other widening projects that will get under way this year as part of the thoroughfare program.
Yarbrough said utility relocation work has been completed for the widening of North Gloster Street from the intersection with Green Street to the entrance to the Department of Transportation headquarters.
“We’re awaiting final approval from the Highway Department to begin construction on the road portion,” he said.
That could come at any time, and the project is expected to take about a year to complete, Yarbrough said.
Scheduled to be completed this year are the widening of two intersections on Jackson Street. The first project will involve the widening of the intersection of Jackson Street and Clayton Avenue to three lanes to allow left turn lanes in all directions. The intersection will also be realigned so that all four branches line up instead of being slightly offset as Jackson Street now is at the crossing.
That project is scheduled to begin around the end of February and be complete in about six months. After it is complete, crews will move west on Jackson Street to begin work on widening its intersections with Joyner Avenue and Rankin Street. Turn lanes will be added on Jackson Street as well as on Joyner Avenue and Rankin Street.