Widened Cliff Gookin completes loop around Tupelo

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03070710 Cliff Gookin

C. Todd Sherman

Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Committee members, from left, Kay Trapp, Greg Pirkle, Betty Wood and other Tupelo officials prepare to cut the ribbon during a ceremony dedicating the completion of Cliff Gookin Boulevard on Wednesday.

The project was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Wednesday.

By Emily Le Coz

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Miles of pristine roadway stretched before two dozen city and transportation officials who gathered on a windy Wednesday outside Harrisburg Baptist Church to dedicate a new swath of thoroughfare.

There, in the sight of God and a steady stream of passing motorists, the group dedicated the recently widened portion of Cliff Gookin Boulevard with a solemn prayer and a snip of a ribbon.

“This is a monumental occasion for me,” said Greg Pirkle, chairman of the Major Thoroughfare Committee, to the small crowd. “I never imagined we could have this much road around the city of Tupelo. It’s hard for me to imagine how it was with only two lanes.”

The widened section of Cliff Gookin completes a five-lane loop around the city that stretches from the north end of Coley Road to the eastern edge of Eason Boulevard. The entire project fell under the auspices of the Major Thoroughfare Program, a citywide road-improvement initiative that began in 1991 and has been renewed every five years since.

Mayor Ed Neelly praised the effort and said he looks forward to the loop’s extension toward the Barnes Crossing area, a reference to one of the program’s next projects. This summer, the group will start constructing a new road that will take Coley northeast until it reaches Barnes Crossing Road.

Engineering plans for that road have been approved, Pirkle said. And committee members are working to obtain easements on the private land that the project will cross, said group member Clyde Whitaker.

Other upcoming projects include improving the existing Town Creek bridge on Eason and building a new one to handle more traffic.

Contact Daily Journal city reporter Emily Le Coz at 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.