June 30 eyed for South Gloster launch

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The South Gloster Street widening project could get under way as early as June 30 and could include the city’s first roadside irrigation system.
The city issued its order to proceed on the $6.5 million job, which will add a fifth lane on Gloster from Garfield Street to near the new state Highway 6. The order says work can start by the last day of June.
But workers can’t move earth until the Mississippi Department of Transportation approves the city’s erosion control plan, said Carrson Neal of Cook Coggin Engineers.
Cook Coggin did the engineering and design work for the project, which was commissioned by the Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Program Committee.
It’s the first project of the program’s fifth five-year phase.
“We probably won’t hear back from MDOT until after June 30,” Neal said. “So they’ll be able to send out survey crews and do some staking, but you won’t see the dirt work until probably July.
APAC of Mississippi has the contract. It will start the project on the south side of Gloster and work north to Cliff Gookin/Eason Boulevard. Then it will move to the second leg of the road, from Cliff Gookin/Eason north to Garfield.
“The sooner the project gets moving, the better,” said Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell, whose district includes the stretch of road. “I hope it’s the shot in the arm South Gloster needs. This is our opportunity to revitalize the area.”
In addition to a new lane, workers also might add an irrigation system to the city rights of way, where grass, trees and shrubs later will be planted. Tupelo Public Works Director Sid Russell had asked MTP Committee members to consider incurring the cost of the estimated $125,000 system.
Russell said his department already struggles to water the more than 400 landscaping beds and 35 acres of turf along Tupelo’s rights of way. He sends a crew out daily in one of three watering trucks, but it’s time-consuming and costly – especially in hot, dry conditions.
If the MTP Committee wants to keep its roads landscaped, Russell said, it will continue to strain his department.
“It’s very labor intense,” he said. “We want what’s best for everybody as a whole in the long run – not today, this year, or five years from now, but 50 years from now. And we feel like irrigation is a vital link to that.”
But MTP Committee members, who met Monday, said it’s a large cost to incur with an already limited budget. The group gets roughly $4 million annually from a 10-mill property tax and uses it to improve several major roadways.
Members also worried that, if they did it for South Gloster, they’d be expected to install irrigation systems along every street they improved. They voted to table a decision on the matter for at least one month.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.