Hearing today on major road projects – but stay on topic

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Got opinions about the Major Thoroughfare Program?
Today’s the day to voice them at a public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. at City Hall. But make sure you stay on topic.
“We’re not going off and talking about the All America City Plan, the 2025 Plan or the Tupelo Promise,” said council President Fred Pitts, citing recent proposals to revitalize the city using a portion of the Major Thoroughfare Program’s 10-mill property tax funding.
“People can stand up and talk about the priorities in the Major Thoroughfare Program Phase 5. They can say ‘for’ or ‘against’ and explain why, but I don’t want them going off on a tangent.”
Anyone – whether a Tupelo resident or not – can discuss the program’s next phase, which will improve a series of busy streets using revenues from the 10-mill property tax.
Proposed improvements include widening portions of Eason and Veterans boulevards, East Main, South Gloster, South Thomas and West Jackson streets, as well as adding right-hand turn lanes to North Gloster Street near the Mall at Barnes Crossing.
Projects will cost in excess of $20 million and take five years to complete.
Not included in the phase are plans to spend some of the money on smaller city street repairs, which initially had been proposed but later stricken from the project list.
Nor does the program set aside funding for any of the city revitalization proposals recently floated by Mayor Jack Reed Jr.
Reed had tried to divert some of the Major Thoroughfare Program’s funding to launch a new program that would upgrade inner-city neighborhoods and send Tupelo Public School District graduates to college.
“There is a lot of confusion in the community about these plans and how they’re connected to the Major Thoroughfare Program,” said Ward 4 City Councilwoman Nettie Davis.
The Major Thoroughfare Committee last month sought to severe any connection between its program and Reed’s proposals by omitting even the marginal funding it had originally allotted for smaller city street repairs.
But council members said they fear the public forum will draw comments from supporters or opponents of Reed’s proposals.
“There will be opportunities down the road to talk about these other things,” Pitts said, “but (this) night will just be about the MTP priorities.”
Speakers will be limited to five minutes each at the podium.
Comment cards also will be available for those who want to share their opinions but don’t care to speak publicly.
Today’s hearing is required before the city can hold its May 3 special election for residents to vote on the Major Thoroughfare Program. Residents vote every five years whether to continue the program, which was implemented in 1991.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.

Projects at a glance
- The Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Program oversight committee proposes the following projects for Phase 5:

South Gloster Street
- 5-lane from Garfield Street to Highway 6: $4.3 million

Eason Boulevard
- 5-lane from Veterans Boulevard to

Briar Ridge Road: $1.9 million

East Main Street
- 5-lane from Highway 45 to Highway
6: $3.1 million

- 5-lane from Highway 6 to Willow
Road: $1.7 million

Thomas Street Extended
- 3-lane from the new Highway 6 to

Cliff Gookin Boulevard: $2.1 million

North Gloster Street at the mall

- Right hand turn lanes: $1.5 million
West Jackson Street

- 3-lane from Coley Road to Air Park
Road: $3.9 million

- Signal at Air Park/W. Main: $75,000
Veterans Boulevard

- 5-lane from East Main Street to
Highway 78: $3.7 million

Weigh in
- A public hearing to discuss Phase 5 will be held at 6 p.m. today at City Hall. Tupelo residents will be able to vote on the issue in a May 3 special election.