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July 14, 2016  -  EER News Hound   /   Elvis Express Radio
The patience of businesses, motorists and pedestrians in the newly completed downtown Tupelo/Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail has been rewarded after two years of at times
disruptive construction during the $11.5 million project.

The street improvements, widening and major landscaping have transformed Main Street from a drab, aging artery into a strikingly attractive magnet for the downtown commercial
and residential district.

The Presley birthplace is Tupelo’s most visited tourism attraction and among the top non-gaming attractions in the state.

Presley, called the most famous Mississippian, was born in east Tupelo and lived there for several years. He moved with his family to Memphis in 1948, when he was 13. He had
discovered his musical talent before departing and bought his first guitar at Tupelo Hardware, a landmark downtown business.

Stretching from the intersection of Main and North Green streets eastward to the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, the refurbished and renewed street has become a striking
gateway for Northeast Mississippi’s largest city.

A formal ribbon-cutting is set for 9 a.m., Tuesday, in front of First United Methodist Church, Main at Green streets.

The upgrades include a paved walking trail that connects Tupelo’s downtown with the Elvis Presley Birthplace in East Tupelo.

The Major Thoroughfare Program helped pay for some of the work, and MTP chairman Greg Pirkle is glad to see the project done.

Tupelo Chief Operations Officer Don Lewis took some other city officials on an unofficial inspection tour Tuesday. The Mississippi Department of Transportation must conduct a
formal inspection before the project is declared completed.

A celebration called Picnics and Promos, a “progressive picnic” in which downtown businesses will offer discounts, prizes and picnic-type foods, is set Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Each participating business place will have a different picnic food or promotion, but you have to go to the store to find out what it is.

George Booth III, manager of Tupelo Hardware Company, said, “Everyone’s morale is higher. There’s some residual effects of just feeling better about going through your day
without having to worry about traffic being backed up. It seems things have really cleared out.”

Across the street at the GumTree Museum of Art, Belle Naugher, executive director, was finishing up the menu for the progressive picnic.

The end of construction and the progressive picnic couldn’t have come at a better time for the GumTree Museum of Art, Naugher said.

“I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “We’re about to do a rebrand. It’s a good season for new. We’re trying to attract a younger audience.”

The project went through a full panning phase, including broad community input and public comment.

The work restates the centrality and importance of strong downtowns in setting the tone for a community’s self-confidence and self-image.