By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Public officials broke ground Wednesday on the next phase of the city’s northern loop, an ambitious $22 million project to build a new road through west Tupelo.
Shovels in hand, the group tossed heaps of dirt at the spot where construction will continue after having halted two years ago amid red tape.
Workers had completed one leg of the 4.5-mile road in 2008, but three other legs and two bridges must be built before it’s complete.
Getting state and federal approval for those projects had taken longer than expected because of new regulations and complicated issues involving Native American sites and wetlands.
“What a momentous occasion we have here,” said Greg Pirkle, chairman of the Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Committee, the city-appointed group overseeing the project.
“This time two years from now if we’re standing here,” he said, “we’ll get run over.”
Pirkle was joined by other members of his committee, Mayor Jack Reed Jr., several city councilmen, Mississippi Department of Transportation District Engineer Bill Jamison and a representative from U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker’s office.
Pirkle and Reed thanked the congressional delegation for securing federal funds for the project. They also praised MDOT and the Natchez Trace Parkway for their cooperation in the process.
The five-lane road will cross both the Natchez Trace and U.S. Highway 78 as it connects the Barnes Crossing shopping district to the Coley Road terminus near McCullough Boulevard.
“The economic activity that will come from this road certainly will be critical to this city,” Reed said during the 15-minute ceremony that drew about three dozen people.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.