EDITORIAL: Redesigning

Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association on Tuesday revealed its vision for major traffic flow and design changes for Main Street that would lower speed and maintain flow while significantly enhancing streetside appearance and pedestrian accessibility.
A design consulting firm, RPM Transportation Consultants from Nashville, presented concept drawings and graphics depicting traffic flow on Main Street from Green Street to Front Street with two thru-lanes and a turn lane, as well as bike lanes on both sides of the street. An alternate option includes medians with turn lane indentations at intersections and no bike lanes.
The concepts are generally very appealing, but further discussion is necessary, including:
– Will pass-through trucks not making downtown deliveries be necessary once the new Mississippi Highway 6 is opened, providing access to U.S. 45 and U.S. 78 without going through downtown?
– Downtown businesses generally say on-street parking is essential for customers and clients. Given that priority, should the parking remain parallel on Main? Proponents cite the use of six-foot-wide bicycle lanes as an added space protection for parkers to leave and enter their cars as traffic passes.
– Questions about a median raise the issue of continuing traditional seasonal and special-event parades on Main Street, and that must be resolved.
The obvious advantage in both options is enhanced appearance from extensive landscaping and a safer, more inviting setting for pedestrians. The Option A plan would provide “bulb” projections at street crossings to offer protection for foot traffic about to cross the street. The bulbs would include landscaping. They would have the effect of slowing traffic and providing protection for pedestrians before they step into the street.
The overall design would complement the redesign of Main Street in front of Fairpark, where a median allows four lanes of traffic and provides room for parallel parking. The master plan for that area has always envisioned a mixed-use neighborhood that encourages pedestrian traffic.
Several other government entities, including the City Council and the Major Thoroughfare Committee will be consulted before any decision is made to move forward.
Mississippi Department of Transportation district engineer Bill Jamieson said MDOT does not maintain Main Street as Mississippi Highway 6 between Gloster and Elizabeth streets, and that Tupelo has wide latitude to redesign the street, realign lines and make bulb extensions – as long as it uses its own money. Jamieson said if Tupelo seeks federal transportation enhancement funds the federal requirements might put some limits on use.
We believe the plans presented Tuesday are on the right track, and a thorough review moving forward can determine what’s best for Main Street and Tupelo.

NEMS Daily Journal

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