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I-69 construction funding stalled

I-69 construction funding stalled

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Progress on the local section of Interstate 69 continues to be stalled by a lack of federal funding.
Work on one local section of the interstate is continuing, and is actually ahead of schedule, according to Michael Harrison of Ford Construction.
Ford Construction has the contract for Section 4 of I-69, which extends from just north of the Titan Tire plant around to just south of West Main Street.
Traffic is being diverted around concrete barriers along West Main Street in the area of Abernathy’s motorcycle dealership. Crews are using heavy machinery to work on that section of the interstate.
Phase 1 construction of Section 4 is “nearing completion,” according to Erwin White with the state Department of Transportation.
“Phase 1 construction refers to grading, structures, roadway tie-ins that are necessary to maintain traffic around and across the project, erosion control, etc.,” he stated.
Phase 2 construction for that section has not been budgeted. That phase involves the completion of the interstate base, asphalt paving, installing guardrails, installing signs and striping the interstate.
The entire local leg of I-69 will enter Obion County from South Fulton (Highway 51 South) and will continue along Highway 51 South until it veers southwesterly at Mayberry Road. The I-69 route winds north and west of Union City until it crosses over West Reelfoot Avenue and then continues south around Troy before reconnecting with Highway 51 South and continuing on to Dyersburg.
“It’s still ahead of schedule and it’ll be finished on time,” Harrison told The Messenger earlier this week about Phase 1 work on Section 4 of the interstate.
In all, there are five I-69 sections in Obion County, according to Erwin White, project manager for the state Department of Transportation. From his office in Jackson, White continues to monitor the progress of I-69 through West Tennessee.
The right of way acquisitions for Sections 1, 2 and 5 are complete, but no construction funding is budgeted for those sections, according to White.
The anticipated cost to complete I-69 through Obion County is estimated at $230 million to $300 million, according to White.
He said right of way acquisition is about 85 percent complete for Section 3, but no construction funding has been budgeted. That new section of interstate begins where the current work ends just south of West Main Street, and the section continues across East Old Troy Road (east of Bel Air Circle) until it intersects at Walker-Tanner Road.
Ford Construction crews have been working on the overpass at West Main Street and the extension of Section 4 where it connects to Section 3, which is in a field south of West Main Street.
“It won’t be much longer,” Harrison said.
However, until federal funding is allocated for the project, the interstate will remain covered with what Harrison called “incidental asphalt.” The final layer of gravel and asphalt paving will have to wait until funding is approved and contracts are signed for the work.
“If they don’t let any more sections … it’ll stay closed,” Harrison said.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 5.21.12

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