GEORGE H. BOOTH: Downtown Tupelo business owner opposes two-lane plan

I am very pleased that Phase 5 of the Major Thoroughfare Program passed by such a large majority on May 3. I have always voted for the MTP and did so again. Congratulations, Tupelo.
Recently at an informational program given by the MTP the maps used to illustrate the progress we have made over the last 20 years did not take credit for any work MTP did on West Main Street from Crosstown to East Main at the Highway 45 overpass.
The MTP’s consolidated map has a hole in the center of our city.! The maps seem to say the central portion of Main Street is not considered a part of MTP anymore. The Phase 1 map did not take credit for the intersection improvement at Main and Green Streets paid for by MTP. In checking into this question I was reminded that no other improvements could be made due to the compact nature of the downtown district that prevents five-laning as MTP has done on the other portions of Main and Gloster.
Reviewing these past decisions reminded me of the tension over turf between MTP and the Main Street Association concerning the downtown portion of Main Street. The city’s and MTP’s best solution – keeping four lanes in Downtown – has been followed until now. The Main Street Association has long wanted to use the more restrictive two-lane solution. Only recently has the association staff been able to pursue this idea thanks to a federal grant the city has now been approved to receive. The bicycle lane is a required component of accepting the federal grant. The bicycle lane is dangerous on Main Street in Downtown Tupelo!
I see all of Main Street as part of the Major Thoroughfare Program since Main Street is Tupelo’s only major east/west route. The compromise solution, intended or not, between the MTP and the Main Street Association of four lanes only with parallel parking on Main in downtown has worked very well over the last 15 to 20 years. The MTP committee and the City Council should not relinquish control of the central portion of Main Street to the Main Street Association and its consultants.
I do oppose the two-laning of any portion of Main Street and the bicycle lane in downtown. I oppose two-laning because of numerous traffic-flow reasons and because the vast majority of customers that shop at Tupelo Hardware disagree with two-laning Main Street. Many have signed a petition in our store.
I believe I speak for the majority of Tupelo and Lee County citizens in spite of what some downtown leaders want.

George H. Booth, II is an owner of Tupelo Hardware Co.. Contact him at 114 West Main St., Tupelo, MS 38804.

George H. Booth