Tupelo Council approves Eason Boulevard bridge

TUPELO – After more than a year of delays and disappointments, the Eason Boulevard bridge finally will be built.
The City Council on Tuesday approved the selection of Carson Construction to build the $2.3 million bridge over Town Creek. The Carthage-based company is expected to start the project by Nov. 1 and be finished in nine months to a year.
Construction was supposed to have started more than a year ago, but governmental red tape combined with new funding rules plagued it from the start.
Each time the city’s Major Thoroughfare Committee thought it had the go-ahead to begin, a new rule or regulation would surface to thwart the process.
“We’re just proud that there has finally been a contract let to build a bridge,” said the city’s chief operations officer, Darrell Smith.
The bridge will sit parallel to an existing two-lane bridge that handles both east-and-west traffic on the five-lane boulevard. When it’s done, one will take eastbound vehicles and the other will handle westbound traffic, thus alleviating the bottlenecks that occur when all five lanes squeeze onto the single bridge.
Money for the bridge will be provided almost exclusively from federal funds. Of its total cost, $1.2 million is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Most of the rest comes from federally earmarked money, said Phillip Harbor, Major Thoroughfare project director.
Any remaining costs will be paid from the Major Thoroughfare Project account, which is funded by city taxpayers in five-year phases. The Major Thoroughfare Committee is halfway through its current five-year phase.
In addition to the bridge, the volunteer-based group is building a road connecting west Tupelo to the Barnes Crossing commercial district. A portion of that project has been completed, but several more sections await construction.

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

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

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