EDITORIAL: Benchmark project

The anticipated start of construction in August on the Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Plan’s “Northern Loop” from the end of Coley Road Extended to Barnes Crossing Road presents enormous potential for growing commercial and residential assets for the city and Lee County.
The $22 million project, including approximately $8.4 million from state and federal sources for bridge construction, will link traffic on U.S. Highway 78 directly to the Barnes Crossing commercial district, routing it away from McCullough Boulevard, North Gloster Street and U.S. Highway 45, all heavily traveled arteries.
The route cuts across mostly open agricultural land.
Major Thoroughfare Program Chairman Greg Pirkle said existing zoning classifications for land along the road that’s inside the city would continue until a change is requested. Other land that’s outside the city limits but included at least partially in annexation plans would be zoned as necessary.
“The zoning that is in place within the city limits remains the same at this point,” Pirkle said in response to questions from the Daily Journal. “I have heard some discussion from land owners about requesting a change in some of the zoning, but I haven’t seen any applications for changes. There has been no discussion about changing the agricultural use status of the land by the city, and the land owners have not questioned me about that. I don’t have any reason to believe that the land around the new road will be treated any differently than agricultural land in the other parts of the city … I would be surprised if there has been any discussion about that before now.”
Pirkle said the Major Thoroughfare Committee had made a pact with landowners about roadway access.
“That was part of our agreement with the landowners when they gave their land for the road. The city could put restrictions later, but at this point it is not a controlled access road. It will be similar to Coley on the other side of 78 and North Gloster around the mall area,” Pirkle said.
Mayor Jack Reed said he thinks the road’s completion will mean major economic expansion.
We agree.
The timing of work segues with Toyota’s plans to start production at its Blue Springs assembly plant in 2011. That’s expected to power development in what’s been called the “Toyota Corridor” from Tupelo into Union and Pontotoc counties.
Next year, the committee and the City Council will put Phase 5 before voters – who have approved each phase and its self-imposed 10-mill tax since the early 1990s by huge margins. Progress is its endorsement.

NEMS Daily Journal