Main Street road widening project inches forward

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Main Street road test is on schedule to start Feb. 14.
Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, told board members Tuesday that work is under way to prepare the traffic lights on Main Street.
The lights from Green Street to Elizabeth Street will be synchronized as part of a six-week test of a new traffic pattern for a section of Main Street.
The test will see how traffic flows once Main Street from Green to Elizabeth is converted to one lane of traffic in each direction, plus a center turn lane.
As part of the test, Tupelo Water amp& Light is adding dedicated left-turn signals at several intersections downtown, including Front and Main Streets.
The lights will be tweaked during the test as needed, Brangenberg said.
Bike lanes are a part of the proposed master plan for downtown, but they will not be included in the test.
The test was required by the Tupelo City Council before it would vote on permanent changes.
The city is paying the $20,000 bill for the test.
The proposed changes are part of Main Street Association’s master plan, which started as a simple beautification project.
The plan has grown into a $2.9 million project that proposes bike lanes, better pedestrian crossings, synchronized traffic signals and a bike trail to the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
The state DOT, through federal funds, has committed to funding $2.3 million of the project. The City Council has approved the match of $600,000. However, council members have not approved a specific plan.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Brangenberg reiterated the initial reasons and goals for the project:
– Improve pedestrian comfort and safety.
– Improve overall traffic safety.
– Improve traffic operations and efficiency.
– Make Main Street vibrant.
Main Street board members said they will use data collected by traffic consultants during the test to see if the changes improve downtown. If the changes are found to be beneficial, Main Street will seek City Council approval of the project.

Do you have thoughts?
– Main Street officials are taking public comment about the three-lane project. Ways to get in touch:
– E-mail: info@tupelomainstreet.com
– Comment: MainStreetTupelo.Blogspot.com
– Call: (662) 841-6598