CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories
CROSSTOWN’S FINAL ROADBLOCK
ASPHALT WORK TO SLOW TRAFFIC ON MAIN STREET
By Marty Russell
Construction at Tupelo’s Crosstown intersection is about to come to a conclusion after more than a year, but not without one final major inconvenience that will affect not only the intersection but downtown businesses and patrons of the downtown post office.
Work on the roadway portion of the intersection of Main and Gloster streets is complete except for the final asphalt overlay and striping. Since Main Street itself also needed overlaying from Front Street west through Crosstown to near Finney’s Sandwich and Soda Shop, the city has decided to do it all at once.
That will require milling up the old asphalt on Main Street from Front Street to Crosstown and closing Main down to two lanes through the downtown area beginning Monday.
“We didn’t want to lose our curbs and drainage,” Joe Benefield, Tupelo’s chief operations officer, said of the need to mill up the old asphalt. “We needed to mill it down and take the old (asphalt) mix off before we could overlay it again.”
Main Street in the downtown area has not been repaved in either 10 years or 20 years, depending on whom you ask. Either way, Benefield said having to pave Crosstown presented the perfect opportunity to tackle the project.
“We’ll start at the railroad track (at Front Street) and pull it all the way down to Finney’s,” Benefield said of how the asphalt would be laid. “That way we don’t have any seams.”
If the weather cooperates, the work should be completed in about a week, he said.
Meanwhile, downtown businesses have been warned that there will be no parking available on Main Street and portions of some side streets while the work is in progress. That could create problems particularly around the downtown post office where parking already is scarce.
“They’ll need to either park on some side streets or park on Church Street to get their mail,” said Debbie Stauffer, the city’s Main Street program director.
Stauffer sent letters to all downtown merchants advising them of the work and warning them that the milling process will create some dust and the possibility of asphalt from the roadwork being tracked into their businesses.
“They gotta do what they gotta do,” said Barbara Morgan, owner of the Main Attraction on Main Street downtown. “I don’t really think it will hurt my business. Maybe it’ll be pretty weather and everybody will just get out and walk.”
Portions of the work, such as Crosstown and the Main Street/Green Street intersection, are parts of the city’s Major Thoroughfare Program. The cost of the overlay for those projects will be charged to the thoroughfare program, while the remainder of the work will be paid for out of the city’s street maintenance budget.
The final overlay on Crosstown brings that project to near completion. Benefield said the final, permanent striping would be painted on the streets within a couple of weeks after the overlay work is finished. There also remains some off-road work such as restoring some curbs and driveways damaged by the construction and some landscaping work.
“For everybody except me, the contractor and a few folks around Crosstown, it should be functioning like it’s going to function in the next couple of weeks,” Benefield said.
Since construction began, Crosstown has been limited to three lanes with a center turn lane. When it is completed, it will feature five lanes with a left turn lane and left turn signals in all directions.