TUPELO – A plan to reroute West Jackson Street Extended for an airport runway project remains a viable option after city leaders postponed action that would have quashed it.
The City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to table the measure, which called for the annulment of an earlier municipal resolution granting the airport permission to reroute the road.
Only Ward 6 Councilman Mike Byran voted against tabling the item; there was no discussion.
After the council meeting, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said the decision likely was prompted by a conversation he’d had earlier that day with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Reed said the FAA understood the city’s concerns about rerouting Jackson Extended, which is a major east-west thoroughfare connecting a growing residential area to the rest of town.
Rather than rescind the resolution, though, the FAA prefers the council pass a new resolution, Reed said. That resolution could outline the council’s support of a plan to tunnel Jackson Extended under the runway zone, thereby keeping it open along the existing route.
It would affirm the wishes of current city leaders without negating those of the previous council and mayor, which had passed the first resolution in 2008.
According to Reed, adding a new resolution in favor of a tunnel might delay the airport’s $9.3 million runway extension but it would not halt it.
He likened the move to slowing down a vehicle to add a new passenger without ejecting the current passenger or having to return to the starting point.
The Tupelo Regional Airport’s runway extension has been on the drawing board for at least five years, and the FAA all but promised to fund 95 percent of it. Most residents support the runway growth but oppose plans to reroute Jackson Extended.
“I’m glad to see it was not rescinded,” said Tupelo Airport Authority Chairman Dan Kellum after the vote. “I think the project is still good, and we will work toward getting a connector. We will work with the council.”
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal