TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - City officials have awarded an $11.5 million contract to build a pathway from downtown Tupelo to the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
“It’s the opportunity for us to try something new and better for what we think will be a great economic development tool,” Debbie Brangenberg, director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1qs2GoK ).
The city council on Tuesday gave the contract to Madison-based Key LLC construction company.
The city’s share of the project is expected to be $575,000, with other funding provided from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Major Thoroughfare Program, which will cover the $2.5 million difference between the project estimate and actual contract.
With an estimated construction time of 15 to 18 months, the project should end by summer 2015.
The project also will add bike paths and sidewalks from downtown to the birthplace, increasing safety for non-motorists traveling between the areas. It also will include improved landscaping.
Mayor Jason Shelton said he’s heard various opinions from residents, ranging from worries of traffic congestion to excitement for potential quality-of-life improvements.
“At the end of the day I think it’s going to be good for the city,” he said.
Presley’s former home in Tupelo is one of the main points of interest on the Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail.
The Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail project includes construction of overlay, roadway and bridge widening, curb, sidewalk, striping along 9,341 feet and traffic signalization from Green Street in downtown Tupelo to the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.
Presley was born in Tupelo on Jan. 8, 1935, and moved to Memphis with his parents at age 13. He was 42 when he died Aug. 16, 1977, in Memphis.