Main Street laning project to move to Tupelo City Council

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Main Street leaders hope to discuss the downtown road changes next week with the City Council.
Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, said it’s her understanding that the project goes before the City Council in a work session next week. At that time, the hired traffic consultants will make a presentation about their findings of the three-lane test.
Nashville-based RPM Transportation Consultants visited Tupelo several times during the test. They measured travel times and traffic flow, Brangenberg said.
A section of Main Street in downtown Tupelo was converted about 12 weeks ago to two lanes, in addition to a center turn lane, a partial bike lane and on-street parking spaces.
The leaders from the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association are spearheading the project, which they say is necessary to make downtown a destination for tourists, shoppers, diners, pedestrians and cyclists. The project was slated to last six weeks, but was extended after Main Street leaders said they needed more time to test the traffic lights.
The project has garnered its share of supporters and opponents. On Tuesday, Main Street leaders unveiled pro-project signs that downtown businesses can display in their windows. The signs feature a rendering of a tree-lined downtown with pedestrian crosswalks and bike lines.
Brangenberg said the signs are free for downtown businesses that will display them.
“We are moving into a critical phase,” Main Street board President Jim Goodwin told his members Tuesday. “We can’t wait for other people to do the work.”
He encouraged them to talk to people about increasing safety downtown, not slowing down the traffic.
“The posted speed limit downtown is 30,” he said. “We have nothing to do with that. If people have a problem with the speed limit, they need to take it up with someone else. … The Main Street project, in my opinion, is a direct byproduct of the comprehensive plan that the city has reviewed and endorsed. One can’t be right and the other wrong.”
The $2.9 million project is being 80 percent funded by state and federal money. The final project proposal includes extensive landscaping, decorative lighting and a bike trail from Green Street to the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.
The City Council previously voted to commit up to $575,000 to the project, noting that some of the money can be from “in-kind services.”
The council must vote on a final design before permanent changes are made to the road.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@journalinc.com.