By NEMS Daily Journal
Sometimes growth can be anticipated and planned for and the proper infrastructure put in place before it’s acutely needed. At other times growth outpaces the capacity of the infrastructure where the growth occurs.
The latter is what has happened in the area of North Gloster Street in Tupelo between McCullough Boulevard and Lakeshire Drive. It’s clear that some adjustments need to be made.
That area benefited significantly from the widening of North Gloster under the Major Thoroughfare Program. A wider street that would move traffic in the direction of the Barnes Crossing shopping area and that was adjacent or near several residential neighborhoods was bound to bring new growth, not just accommodate what had already occurred.
Sure enough, hotels, restaurants and the new Crye-Leike Plaza have all sprung up in non-stop fashion over the past decade and a half. What used to be primarily wooded or open space is now one of the most concentrated lodging and dining areas of the city.
Maneuvering in and out of hotels, restaurants and other businesses in a vehicle is tough enough. Pedestrians who want to cross the street – go to a restaurant from a hotel, for example – might as well forget it if they don’t want to risk their safety.
Because the area is important to local efforts to attract tourists and business travelers, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has weighed in and is hoping to be a part of discussions about a solution.
One business owner suggested a traffic light earlier this year. But the city’s Traffic Committee indicated it preferred to wait to see what happened to North Gloster traffic after the new northern loop connecting west Tupelo to the Barnes Crossing area opens up.
New and expanded roadways generally follow the “if you build it, they will come” pattern, but that doesn’t always mean any less traffic somewhere else. Even if traffic growth stalled completely when the northern loop opens – possibly as long as two years from now – the problem on North Gloster would still persist.
This is a case where something as basic as a well-placed light could be a big help. The road is under control of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and MDOT officials – after some apparent initial misunderstanding of their position – say they’ll respond to a city study that indicates a need for a traffic signal on that stretch of road.
The city should undertake such a study and make its case to MDOT. Safety, convenience and business strength and viability are all good reasons to do it sooner rather than later.