Northern thoroughfare loop work in Tupelo to resume

TUPELO – Construction on the city’s “northern loop” could resume as early as January or February, reviving a project that has stagnated for more than a year.
The Major Thoroughfare Committee learned Monday that a long-awaited public hearing – without which the road project cannot proceed – might finally occur in December.
“This has been the weight around our neck for the last three years,” said committee Chairman Greg Pirkle during the meeting at City Hall.
The Major Thoroughfare Committee is a volunteer-based group that uses dedicated tax dollars to improve the city’s transportation grid. It operates in five-year phases and is in its fourth phase.
Projects in this phase include an Eason Boulevard bridge over Town Creek, widening both East Main and South Gloster streets, and building a five-lane road connecting west Tupelo to the Barnes Crossing district. The new road is referred to as the northern loop.
The entire northern loop will cost roughly $22.1 million and is expected to take four or five years to complete.
Work on the first part of the road – extending Coley Road from McCullough Boulevard to Highway 78 – began in October 2007 and finished in mid 2008. But the loop is far from complete.
Committee members must now connect it to Barnes Crossing Road, passing 78 and the Natchez Trace Parkway on the way. Because of this, they need to work closely with the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the National Park Service, which oversees the Natchez Trace.
Both entities require a public hearing before they’ll approve on the road. That hearing could come by Dec. 15, Pirkle said.
“That’s good progress,” said committee member Brad Prewitt.
The Chickasaw Nation and other Native American tribes must first approve of the plan before it goes to the public hearing. After the hearing, it will take about one month before the project can go out for bid.
If everything goes according to plan, construction could start soon afterward.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal