TUPELO • The city’s Major Thoroughfare Committee voted to make three new road projects a priority to complete by the end of its current phase, with those projects costing an estimated $17 million or so.
The projects selected as priorities by the committee are as follows: widening West Jackson Street from Airpark Road to Coley Road; widening Eason Boulevard from Veterans Boulevard to Briar Ridge Road; and the completion of the widening project on Jackson Street from Clayton Avenue to Madison Street.
“What that basically does for us is to commit the money that remains in the program to those three projects,” Major Thoroughfare Committee Chairman Greg Pirkle said. “We could come back and change, but right now we are actually spending money. And, it’s unusual for us to spend money on something we don’t plan to do.”
Rough estimates indicate the Jackson Street expansion project would cost approximately $4 million, the widening of Eason Boulevard would cost $3.5 million and the Jackson Street project between Clayton and Madison would cost $9.2 million in utility and road work to complete.
The committee voted to authorize engineers to design plans. These plans should offer a better idea of the combined cost of the projects.
Pirkle and Kim Hanna, the city’s chief financial officer, currently estimate that the committee will bring in around $13.6 million over the next two fiscal years to complete the end of the current phase.
That would leave Major Thoroughfare short of funding to complete the final project by about $2 million.
In order to receive additional funding, Major Thoroughfare would have to ask the Tupelo City Council to provide the additional money.
Pirkle emphasized that these are early estimates and the committee doesn’t have any plans to request additional funding at this time.
“We have no plans to go ask (the city) at this point because we would not have to ask until we go to bid on the last project,” Pirkle said. “Until we go to bid on the last project, we won’t know fixed dollars figures.”
Hanna said the City Council may not even need to make up the shortfall. City residents will vote on whether or not to renew the next phase the Major Thoroughfare program for another five year phase in 2021. If the voters approve a seventh phase, the money generated in that phase will provide the money needed to complete any projects left unfinished at the end of the sixth phase.
Hannah said no one wants to presume the voters will approve phase seven, so the city is just preparing to ensure that all projects can be completed.
“The first thing of phase seven will be to complete anything open in phase six,” Hannah said.
The committee also voted to form a subcommittee to determine what major projects that committee should focus on for phase seven and another subcommittee to help design and implement the road plans for the Jackson Street project from Clayton Avenue to Robins Street.
“We have not had significant experience in that area,” Pirkle said. “We want to make sure that road travels well, but also that the community is not disturbed by the plans.”