HED:Thoroughfare panel eyes Phase III ideas

CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories

AUTHOR: MOULDE

HED:Thoroughfare panel eyes Phase III ideas

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Tupelo’s Major Thoroughfare Oversight Committee got a peek Monday at possible projects for the third phase of the major street improvement program.

While the committee took no action on the proposals a possible third phase is still two years away it was clear some of the ideas weren’t going to be readily embraced.

The proposed programs range from improving Thomas Street from Green Tee Road near the new state Highway 6 corridor to three-laning the entire stretch of Coley Road, Cliff Gookin Boulevard and Eason Boulevard from McCullough Boulevard in the northwest to state Highway 178 in the east.

Officials had envisioned that route as a possible four-lane corridor around the inner city.

But three lanes, including a center turn lane, apparently could handle almost as much traffic as four lanes and would be much less expensive, committee member Betty Wood said.

Other project suggestions included five-laning McCullough between Natchez Trace and U.S. Highway 78; extending Barnes Crossing Road westward to Highway 78; extending Coley Road to Highway 78; widening Jackson Street between Thomas Street and Jackson Extended and building a new intersection at Jackson Extended; improving Front Street to the U.S. Highway 45 access point; connecting Industrial Road to Jackson Street; working with the county to improve Old Saltillo Road and Barnes Crossing Road to U.S. Highway 45; and extending Tom Watson Drive to Old Saltillo Road (Veterans Boulevard).

The 10 suggestions came at a meeting of the Phase III Study Committee, but some who attending that session stressed that the projects were merely speculative.

All, of course, couldn’t be financed through another five-year levy of the special 10-mill property tax that funds the program under a “pay as you go” philosophy.

Some, such as Barnes Crossing extension, would face serious problems. A westward extension to U.S. Highway 78 would require crossing the Natchez Trace.

City residents approved the second phase of the program, and the special tax, in June 1996. A Phase III vote would likely not occur until around June 2001.

The tax is currently producing about $2.7 million a year. Projections for the five years from fiscal 2002 to 2007 indicate it would would average about $3 million to $3.5 million a year.

In other action, thoroughfare program manager Boyd Yarbrough reported work on North Gloster Street between U.S. Highway 78 to the Red Cap facility was 44 percent complete. Contractors have until Oct. 30 to finish the job, he said.

That portion of North Gloster will be fully opened to traffic even though bridge work south of Highway 78 being done by the state Department of Transportation won’t be ready for another year, Yarbrough said.

Traffic will have to be funneled to two lanes to pass through the bridge construction area, he said.

Appraisals have been completed on 54 of 59 properties along West Main Street between Monument Drive and Milford Street, Yarbrough added. Twenty parcels have been approved for City Council action and seven have been acquired.

Proposed Phase III Thoroughfare Projects

(Tentative suggestions. No particular order of priority).

1. Improving Thomas Street from Green Tee Road to Jackson Street.

2. Five laning McCullough Boulevard between the Natchez Trace and U.S. Highway 78.

3. Extending Barnes Crossing Road westward to U.S. Highway 78.

4. Extending Coley Road to U.S. Highway 78 and providing frontage road.

5. Improving Front Street to U.S. Highway 45 access.

6. Improving Jackson Street from Thomas Street to Jackson Extended and rebuilding intersection.

7. Extending Industrial Road to Jackson Street.

8. Widening Coley Road, Cliff Gookin Boulevard and Eason Boulevard from McCullough Boulevard to state Highway 178.

9. Improving Old Saltillo Road and Barnes Crossing Road to U.S. Highway 45 (joint city-county project?).

10. Extending Tom Watson Drive to Old Saltillo Road (Veterans Boulevard).