By EMILY LECOZ / NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Downtown’s Main Street could shrink to three lanes by Valentine’s Day in a trial run of what could become a permanent traffic configuration.
During a presentation to the City Council on Monday, transportation consultant Bob Murphy of Nashville-based RPM said his firm will study the affects of the three-lane system for six weeks.
If all goes as planned, the new configuration will improve traffic safety and flow, reduce speeding, make left turns easier and provide better street access to pedestrians and cyclists.
The study is part of a $2.9 million project to enhance the appearance, safety and quality of downtown Main Street and includes a bike trail from the city center to the Elvis Presley birthplace in east Tupelo.
Most of that money will come from a federal grant.
Downtown Main Street currently has four lanes – two eastbound; two westbound – with on-street parking on both sides.
Under the three-lane configuration, the street would have one eastbound lane and one westbound. The middle lane would be for turns, and there would be space for both on-street parking and bike lanes on either side. It’d extend from Green Street east to Elizabeth Street.
Among the plan’s biggest benefits would be easing traffic congestion at intersections when people make left-hand turns. Because there currently are no dedicated left-hand turn lanes, vehicles can block traffic for several minutes waiting for an opening to turn.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association Director Debbie Brangenberg identified the intersection of Front and Main streets as especially troubling.
Brangenberg said it’ll cost about $20,000 and take several weeks to install the new configuration. Tupelo Water amp& Light and the city Public Works Department will participate.
The group hopes to have it complete and ready for testing by Feb. 14.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.