Tupelo City Council moves forward with bike trail

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The downtown Tupelo master plan gained momentum Tuesday, moving a tourist-geared bike and pedestrian trail one step closer to fruition.
Tupelo City Council members at Tuesday night’s meeting unanimously approved a resolution from the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association that asks the state Department of Transportation to consider funding the enhancement project and Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail, the formal name given to the trail in the request. The trail connects downtown to the birthplace.
Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the Main Street Association, said the actual cost of the project had gone up since the last meeting, when it was estimated at $2.2 million. On Tuesday, she said the actual cost is $2,865,404.22.
The council members, by approving the resolution Tuesday, committed to matching up to 20 percent, or $573,080, for the project if it is funded.
Councilman Fred Pitts emphasized after the meeting that the council has not approved a final plan, which it must vote on before construction starts.
The plan proposed at various Main Street meetings includes additional landscaping downtown, pedestrian amenities, traffic signal synchronization and the restriping of a three-block section of Main Street to be two lanes, with a center turn lane, bike lanes and parallel parking.
Councilman Mike Bryan said the city can help defray some of the costs associated with its 20 percent match by “in-kind services,” which means the city can do some of the work itself instead of hiring it out.
“If we had to ante up the full 500-something-thousand dollars, it’d be hard for me to approve, given our budget coming up,” Bryan said.
Bryan, Pitts and Councilman Willie Jennings also said the city’s commitment can be spread out over two to three years.
“We contribute once the invoice is issued,” Pitts said. “It’s not like we have to come up with $500-plus today or tomorrow.”
Pitts added that this is the second matching grant the council has approved this year. The other is for the Elvis Presley Birthplace, which plans to add a theater.
Councilman Jim Newell, who at a previous meeting had concerns about the project, was absent from the meeting.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.