East Main Street construction is on time, but costs escalate

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – While East Main Street construction related to the Major Thoroughfare Program remains on schedule, estimated costs for part of the project have nearly doubled.
The East Main work involves expanding the street from four lanes to five. The first part of the project, from Veteran’s Boulevard to Hillsdale Drive, should finish before the contractual deadline of August, said Major Thoroughfare Program Project Manager Philip Harbor. The second phase, from Green Street to Veterans, should begin in May.
However, estimates for bridge work alone in the second phase, $4 million, are higher than the overall second phase estimate of $3.8 million from five years ago. Now the second phase estimate has risen to $6.6 million.
Greg Pirkle, chairman of the Major Thoroughfare Program committee, said cost estimates increased after officials learned about state requirements that bridgework must use the same materials found in the existing bridge.
“The original estimates were done a few years ago,” Harbor said. “We didn’t know the requirements with the existing bridges.”
The Major Thoroughfare Program is funded by 10 mills assessed to Tupelo taxpayers, approved every five years by referendum. Each year, the program receives about $4 million in funding.
Pirkle said the additional costs to the second phase of the East Main project won’t delay completion, expected to be within 18 months of starting. With more than $5 million unallocated by the end of 2017, funding will be available.
For another part of the ongoing program, state Department of Transportation officials have resolved right-of-way issues for the land for the Highway 78 bridge, part of the Northern Loop project.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com