East Main Street project makes progress in Tupelo

Phase two of the Major Thoroughfare Program’s East Main Street project is expected to begin before the end of the year. A joint project between the Major Thoroughfare Program, Tupelo’s Main Street Association and the Mississippi Department of Transportation will widen the bridge at Mud Creek and make permanent the three-lane part of Main Street downtown and connect it to Elvis’ birthplace with sidewalks and bike paths. (Thomas Wells)

Phase two of the Major Thoroughfare Program’s East Main Street project is expected to begin before the end of the year. A joint project between the Major Thoroughfare Program, Tupelo’s Main Street Association and the Mississippi
Department of Transportation will widen the bridge at Mud Creek and make permanent the three-lane part of Main
Street downtown and connect it to Elvis’ birthplace with sidewalks and bike paths. (Thomas Wells)

By Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – With construction complete on part of East Main Street, it will begin at another section likely by the end of the year, extending to Elvis’ birthplace and connecting the tourist attraction to downtown with bike paths and sidewalks.

When all is complete, the Main Street project that connects to the birthplace will result in an estimated $10.3 million in infrastructure improvements and result in a better connection between east Tupelo and downtown and opportunities for more development along the area.

“We want to see improved connectivity from east Tupelo to West (Highway) 45,” said Greg Pirkle, chairman of the Major Thoroughfare Program. “Our hope is businesses there will see increased profitability.”

Construction has ended on the nearly mile-long stretch on Main Street from Veterans Boulevard to Hillsdale Drive. Engineers for the project and the city began a few weeks ago inspecting the final work on $3.6 million project that added a fifth lane and a third lane east of Hillsdale.

This first phase is part of the Major Thoroughfare Program, a taxpayer-funded program voted on every five years to earmark an extra 10 mills to fund major street developments and improvements. Funding for the second phase of the Main Street project comes from the MTP, the city of Tupelo and a federal grant paid through the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
Debbie Brangenberg, director of the Tupelo Main Street Association and the Elvis Festival, said the downtown project beginning at Green Street will permanently create two lanes to east of the Fairpark area and add bike paths and sidewalks extending to Veterans Boulevard to the birthplace.

Also included in the downtown changes will be landscaping to just past the railroad tracks near Front Street and expanding bridges west of Veterans Boulevard.

With an estimated construction time of 15 to 18 months, the project should end by summer 2015. Currently, city officials working on the project are completing related documents required by MDOT before construction can begin.

“If all things go according to plan, we hope to be under construction by the end of the year,” Brangenberg said.

The project will improve the look of downtown and allow people to connect from downtown to the birthplace on bike or foot safer than current conditions allow, she said. Planning for the changes has been part of a downtown master plan expected to improve safety for pedestrians, add more downtown parking and connect downtown with east Tupelo.

“One of the things it will do is add quality of life to our community,” she said. “We want to be a walkable community.”

robbie.ward@journalinc.com

  • Moooperator

    I just don’t understand the logic behind making 4 lanes to help traffic move and now we bottleneck east and west my making 2 lanes in the downtown area. And I have never once seen the bike paths used. Who wants to ride a bike where there are so many vehicles squeezing into one lane? It would be funny if it were not so sad to see people come to the area near BanCorpSouth and realize the four lanes switch to two. I can just read on their faces the surprise of having to fight to get over in the only lane available.

  • http://www.adamys.net/ Adam Sudduth

    Whenever they did the “test” study, they used data to support what the Tupelo Main Street Association wanted to do. If you look back at the data that was released, it shows that traffic flow from Green Street to Fairpark area did not decrease in time to travel through the area. they did not look at Madison or Church Street to Fairpark, otherwise, their data would not be so favorable.

    Also, that data was collected before the Front Street light reconfiguration (technically, they reconfigured the Front Street light to have more time on Main, then reconfigured it back after the study) If you are on Main Street during close to rush hours, then the Front Street light will be your biggest problem, you may not get through the light or 2 before getting to that light because it is backed up so far.

  • Winston Smith

    I’ve not seen the bike lanes used at all. I challenge the daily journal to conduct a poll seeing if people approve or disapprove of the changes to main street.