By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The sweet, inviting smells wafting from Shipley’s Do-Nuts pull customers in daily, but it’s not always easy to get to the store.
Owners Scarlett and David Wilson opened the South Gloster Street business 21 years ago, and they’ve been waiting for a center turn lane in front of their store ever since.
“We just want the road to be finished being widened to five lanes,” Scarlett Wilson said. “We’ve seen a lot of accidents, a lot of near-accidents with people trying to get in.”
The Wilsons were among dozens of attendees at Friday’s meeting of the South Gloster Business Association, which has been pushing to get the rest of the road – from Garfield Street to where Highway 6 intersects with South Gloster – widened to five lanes.
As part of the Major Thoroughfare Program, South Gloster has long been on the list to be finished. But year after year, the widening has been pushed back for one reason or the other.
Now in Phase 4, the MTP may have to push the project back to Phase 5.
“Our fear is that we’ll be overlooked again,” David Wilson said.
Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell, who led the meeting, said that was his concern as well, particularly with the introduction of a new program called the All-America City Plan.
That plan would essentially take half of the typical funding of the MTP – about $10 million – and be used for neighborhood revitalization, while the other half would be used for the city’s most pressing street projects – the widening of South Gloster and East Main streets.
Newell prefers that the full $20 million for Phase 5 of Major Thoroughfare Program be left strictly alone as it was originally intended.
Greg Pirkle, the chairman of the Major Thoroughfare Committee, said widening of South Gloster would occur with either plan, but said the All-America plan could delay work on South Gloster for up to two years and work on East Main for up to five years.
“It’s a ‘pay as you go’ plan, so we can’t stop and start work,” he said. “The money all has to be there first.”
The Wilsons don’t care how the details are hammered out, as long as South Gloster is finally widened.
“We’ve been promised it for too long,” Scarlett said, “and we still don’t have it.”