By KEVIN BOWDEN
It’s been nearly two months since state Commissioner of Transportation John Schroer announced he was committed to seeing the completion of I-69 through Obion County.
Now, a critical 2.9-mile section of I-69 southwest of Union City has been included in Schroer’s three-year transportation plan released Tuesday afternoon.
The state’s three-year transportation plan includes about $1.5 billion for 80 projects in 47 counties, as well as 15 statewide programs. The plan covers road projects as well as bridge improvements, mass transit projects and several airport improvement projects across the state.
Tuesday’s release of the state’s three-year transportation plan fulfills the pledge by Schroer to continue work on I-69 in Obion County. In his transportation plan, the 2.9-mile segment from just south of West Main Street to Highway 51 South near the Hampton Inn will be completed in the 2014 fiscal year.
“This plan represents a thoughtful, balanced approach to transportation and focuses on expanding economic development opportunities, improving safety and providing important upgrades to our interstate corridors,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “A quality transportation system is critical to our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs as well as the continued growth of the state’s economy.”
This is the first three-year transportation program developed under the new Federal Transportation Funding Bill, MAP-21. The bill modifies how federal transportation funding is allocated to Tennessee and has a greater emphasis on high-volume roads.
“The shifts in federal funding and the changes to how projects qualify for funding has challenged our ability to deliver as many projects as we would like,” Schroer said. “However, this multimodal program is responsive to the needs of communities across the state and also dedicates important funding to maintaining our infrastructure through our resurfacing and bridge programs.”
Locally, there has been no new construction on I-69 in Obion County since November 2012.
Construction work on the local section of the interstate is being done in phases. Schroer announced Feb. 22 he expected to have the Obion County segment of I-69 completed within 10 years. He made that announcement at a meeting held in Dyersburg attended by a number of officials from across the region.
The total price tag for the interstate that will connect Canada to Mexico is estimated at $25 billion.
The Obion County section of I-69 is expected to cost between $250 million-$300 million.
The project is being done using a combination of federal and state transportation funds. Already, Tennessee has invested more than $200 million in the interstate project, according to state transportation officials.
Basically, the interstate enters Obion County from the north at the Highway 51 South intersection in South Fulton. The planned route for I-69 will continue along Highway 51 briefly before veering west in the area of Mayberry Road and making an “S” route around the west side of Union City before crossing West Reelfoot Avenue south of Union City and extending around the east side of Troy and then reconnecting with Highway 51 South and continuing on to Dyersburg.
New construction work on the Obion County leg of I-69 (about 20 miles) is broken down into sections. So far, about $37 million has been spent on I-69 in Obion County, with that money used for construction as well as right of way acquisition for the interstate.
The most visible progress on the interstate project through Obion County has taken place around the west side of Union City, in the areas of West Main Street and Brevard Road. That interstate segment is known as Section 4.
The stretch of interstate from the Kentucky state line to Dyersburg is known as Segment 7.
Work on I-69 has been going on for more than 20 years. The interstate route extends from the Canadian border at Port Huron, Mich., through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas as it connects Canada to Mexico.
The interstate has been designated a “high priority corridor” and a “corridor of national significance” by the federal government and is seen as having the potential for major economic impact for the entire Mid-South region.
Published in The Messenger 4.17.13