Legal efforts pursued for right of way for bridge

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council authorized Tuesday proceeding with eminent domain related to property near the Highway 78 bridge, one of the last remaining structures needed before a new city thoroughfare can open.
In a special council meeting called to approve eminent domain actions, the council unanimously granted permission for city attorney John Hill to pursue “abutters’ rights” to the property owned by Brian and Melissa Sisk.
Hill said the legal action doesn’t involve taking any actual property, only the city taking front right-of-way access.
As part of the legal efforts to seek access to the right of way for the property, Hill said the city of Tupelo will compensate the Sisks a few thousand dollars for right-of-way use.
One of two bridges along the Northern Loop thoroughfare, construction of the Highway 78 bridge is expected to begin in a matter of weeks.
City leaders said they chose to pursue legal action instead of continued negotiations because of the time-sensitive nature of construction.
“It was our understanding they’d already agreed to sign it,” said Greg Pirkle, chairman of the Major Thoroughfare Program.
Pirkle said this right-of-way issue is the last remaining property-related issue for the bridge.
The Northern Loop is expected to open in fall or winter 2014.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com