Lack of funding an I-69 roadblock

Lack of funding an I-69 roadblock
Lack of funding an I-69 roadblock | Lack of funding an I-69 roadblock
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
A lack of federal funding continues to hold up construction of the near 21-mile I-69 section through Obion County, according to County Mayor Benny McGuire.
“The state hasn’t gotten the money from the federal government,” he told The Messenger. “I-69 is a very important ingredient for economic development in our area.”
McGuire said he has heard news of a federal transportation bill that made its way through several key committees in Congress last week.
“This week the House is expected to take up major transportation legislation that would allocate funding to Tennessee and allow the governor to set the priorities,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump). “This bill is streamlined to enable 90 percent of Federal Highway Program funding to be distributed through formula programs to state departments of transportation, allowing state and local transportation officials to prioritize projects rather than bureaucrats in Washington.
“Clearly I-69 is a priority to West Tennessee and I will continue working closely with Governor Haslam and TDOT (Ten-nessee Department of Transportation) to make sure these funds are allocated to I-69.”
There are actually five new sections of I-69 in Obion County, as work on the interstate through Obion County is being done in phases. The interstate will enter Obion County off the Purchase Parkway and will extend along the existing Highway 51 for part of its route through the county. The interstate will split off from Highway 51 north of Union City and will extend around the west side of the city, across West Main Street, and then will cross West Reelfoot Avenue south of Union City and will parallel Highway 51 on the east until it reconnects with the highway south of Troy.
A majority of the work on the local leg of the interstate has been done on Section 4, which extends from just north of the Titan Tire plant southerly to south of West Main Street.
“Section 4 on the west and north of Union City is under phase 1 construction and is approximately 90 percent complete,” TDOT project manager Erwin White told The Messenger Tuesday.
 So far, more than $30 million has been spent on construction of the interstate project in Obion County. It is estimated the cost to complete the interstate leg through Obion County will take at least another $230 to $300 million, according to  White.
He estimated it could take up to 10 years and possibly as long as 20 years to complete I-69 through Obion County.
“There is no new (federal) construction funding available right now,” Erwin told The Messenger Tuesday.
He said the state has completed the acquisition of all the right of ways necessary for the interstate through Obion County, except for the ROW acquisition in Section 3 southwest of Union City. He said the state is about 80 percent complete in acquiring the right of ways in that section.
Ford Construction Co. has been working on the local interstate project for the past several years. Ford Construction superintendent Michael Harrison said his crews are still working on the interstate overpass just north of the Titan Tire plant. As soon as the weather warms up, Harrison said his crews will resume work on the overpass and interstate section that crosses over West Main Street.
New interstate construction costs about $6 million to $10 million per mile and construction of interchanges cost about $3 million to $5 million.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 2.16.12

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