The PRIDE Committee's decision Monday afternoon to concentrate on a get-out-the-yes-vote campaign takes the high road in Tupelo's efforts to win voter approval of a Phase II Major Thoroughfare Program.
An Aug. 6 referendum requires a simple majority's approval to continue a 10-mill tax voters levied on themselves in 1991 to pay for Phase I of the Major Thoroughfare Program. A mill generated $1 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.
The PRIDE Committee, composed of Tupelo citizens from every ward and virtually every major neighborhood, studied options for extending the 1991 program beginning in early spring. The committee's consensus was to complete north-south and east-west thoroughfare plans on a Gloster Street/Main Street axis. The new work would tie into the major traffic flow improvements completed or under construction in Phase I.
The decision to concentrate on getting out committed support for a Phase II program plays directly to the strength of Phase I it worked as designed and promised. Some of the scheduling needed to be changed during construction. However, Phase I supporters promised a traffic flow program designating specific streets and intersections and made good on the plan presented to voters.
Members of the PRIDE Committee (composed of citizens appointed by the City Council and Mayor Marshall to represent all Tupelo residents) know the city can't afford unlimited spending. The goal of building arteries to move large numbers of vehicles efficiently, even in peak hours, makes ultimately good sense. Getting vehicles from one place to another without lengthy delays and bottlenecks means they can be more quickly dispersed into secondary streets and highways or parked at commercial and retail destinations.
It's also reassuring and good sense to know from Mayor Marshall that he hopes to continue an Oversight Committee formed to monitor Phase I with many of the members currently serving. Every city committee needs a natural infusion of "new blood," but there's a strong case to be made for continuity and the knowledge of especially important projects.
The Oversight Committee for Phase II was added to the ordinance setting the plan into law at the City Council's last meeting.
The issue goes to voters in less than a month, and the completed projects in Phase I will make the case for Phase II every day from now until Aug. 6. Tupelo's traffic flow improved dramatically with Phase I. There's no reason to expect results any less valuable with the plans for Phase II.