Traffic study will update road priorities

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – An anticipated citywide traffic study will reveal top priorities for the Major Thoroughfare Program as it passes the two-decade mark.
The program’s previous study was completed in 1991. It recommended a host of road improvements that now nearly all have been accomplished. Program leaders say it’s time for a fresh look at the city’s traffic flow.
“Everything has changed,” said Greg Pirkle, who chairs the Major Thoroughfare Program committee. “The traffic patterns, the residential areas, the commercial areas. We think we need to have other professionals look at that plan and tell us, is this still relevant or should we update it.”
The committee, which is funded by a voter-approved 10-mill property tax, will spend an estimated $100,000 to hire a consultant for the study. It hopes to start work by the end of the year and have a final product by late 2013.
Among the potential targets are West Jackson Street, Eason Boulevard by Itawamba Community College’s Tupelo campus, Colonial Estates Road by the airport and the connection between U.S. 45, Front Street and McCullough Boulevard.
“But those are based on the committee’s experience in driving in Tupelo,” Pirkle said. “We see those as individuals needs but think we need a professional to do a more comprehensive study.”
The existing plan had recommended widening Gloster Street and Main Street, improving several key intersections along those main thoroughfares, and creating a loop around the perimeter of the city.
Those projects nearly are complete: The Major Thoroughfare Program has widened Eason Boulevard, Cliff Gookin Boulevard and Coley Road to form part of the loop. It’s currently building the rest of the loop through northwest Tupelo.
It also widened much of Gloster and Main streets, but more work on those projects remains.
Pirkle said the study will help determine which projects come next in the current, five-year phase, as well as picking projects for Phase 6.
The election for that phase comes in May 2016.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com