EDITORIAL: South Gloster action

The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday night approved a bid for five-laning South Gloster Street from Garfield Street to the intersection with what will be the new Mississippi Highway 6 – at $6.5 million, $2.2 million over the original estimate.
APAC of Mississippi was the lone bidder, a situation that in some circumstances could have caused a rebid, but the Mississippi Department of Transportation advised taking the bid for the widely supported Major Thoroughfare Program project.
The original $4.3 million estimate was later revised to $5.3 million, but even that was not enough to keep up with rising material costs and what Council President Fred Pitts said were objectionable federal regulations about payments and contractor requirements.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation, District Engineer Bill Jamieson said Tuesday, is investing $675,750 in the project and handling pass-through of $1.6 million in federal funding. The balance of the cost will be borne by the 10-mill thoroughfare tax on Tupelo property owners, imposed by public referendum.
Pitts said the city had little choice about the bid because to reject it and rebid might see an even higher bid, and federal rules about contract payments effectively eliminated small contractors from the process. The Daily Journal earlier reported that a ban on stored materials prohibits companies from recouping the up-front costs of purchasing construction items like pipes. Companies often buy in bulk to get better deals, then charge the city, which is the payment agent, immediately afterward. In the case of South Gloster, the materials couldn’t be charged to the city until they were put to use – regardless of when they were purchased.
South Gloster is also Mississippi Highway 145, under control of MDOT except for traffic capacity improvements like five-laning.
Objections aside, businesses on South Gloster have been strongly supportive of the improvements, which they believe will help the street achieve an economic resurgence.
Jamieson said a heavy traffic count on the new Highway 6, which is expected to open by 2014, logically should be attractive to investment interests that look at such high-volume locations.
In addition, Jamieson and assistant engineer Jamie McDonald said the grade-crossing intersection with the new highway has been designed for a five-lane Gloster Street.
Included in the improvements is closure of South Green Street where it connects to South Gloster, and rerouting of Green Street traffic to South Gloster via Shell Street, with a new traffic signal at that intersection.
The opportunity South Gloster sought and the city promised has moved to the action phase.

NEMS Daily Journal