CATEGORY: HWY Highways

AUTHOR: MARTY

HED: Extra funds may not finish Phase II

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

Work in preparation for the widening of West Main Street in Tupelo is progressing ahead of schedule, but it is still unclear whether extra money brought in by reappraisal will be enough to finish Phase II of the city's Major Thoroughfare Program.

Members of the citizen Oversight Committee which keeps tabs on the thoroughfare program heard a report Monday that work on relocating utilities on West Main Street from Milford Street to Monument Drive is 54 percent complete with 47 percent of the contractor's time expired.

"He's actually done all the sewer on the south side," Boyd Yarbrough, thoroughfare program manager for the city, said.

This week, a line across Main Street is being laid just west of Highland Street to connect the sewer lines on the north and south sides of Main Street. That work has required that Main Street be shut down to two lanes at least through Friday.

The work is in preparation for widening the section of Main Street from Milford to Monument to five lanes with wider lanes. It still is unclear whether the decision by the city Monday to lower the thoroughfare program's 10-mill tax levy to 9 mills will bring in enough money to finish Phase II of the program.

The final project in Phase II is the widening of Main Street from Thomas Street to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Oversight Committee officials had already resigned themselves to pushing that project into Phase III which must be approved by voters next summer.

But in a move to ease the burden on taxpayers after reappraisal raised property values this year, the city council agreed Monday to lower the thoroughfare program's 10 mills to 9. Even with the reduced tax rate, reappraisal would bring an additional $274,358 per year to the program which might be enough to finish the Natchez Trace-to-Thomas section in Phase II.

Yarbrough said estimates are being revised but said, unless bids come in below those estimates, the extra money still will not be enough to finish that section.

In other business discussed at Monday's Oversight Committee meeting, members were told it is unlikely the widening of North Gloster Street from the Mississippi Department of Transportation headquarters to Lowe's will be finished by the holiday shopping season. Once the section is complete, MDOT still has to repair an overpass that was damaged when a piece of heavy equipment smashed into it earlier this year.

The city has no control over that project even though it abuts another Major Thoroughfare Program project that has already been completed. Officials said MDOT has total control over the North Gloster Street project and there is nothing the city can do to move that project forward at a faster pace.

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