Lamar in southeast Memphis serves an industrial, warehouse and distribution corridor where 42,000 people work and more than 20 Fortune 500 companies operate facilities.
The route is chronically congested during peak hours. The warehouses and sprawling BNSF Railroad intermodal yard that flank Lamar pour large numbers of tractor-trailers onto the road.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has been planning the road project for many years, but has been unable to nail down enough funding.
The plan is to widen the road from four to six lanes and build three new grade-separated interchanges between the Mississippi state line and Getwell. Those changes would increase vehicle capacity by 50 percent, and reduce the hours of delay during peak periods by 20 to 25 percent.
The state budgeted $165.2 million just for right-of-way acquisition.
“TDOT is still moving forward with the project and is currently working on the (right of way) phase for the first section,” said Kate Horton, transportation planner with the Memphis Metropolitan Organization. The state is looking into re-applying for an Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to help fund the work, she said.
INFRA grants offer dedicated, discretionary money for projects that “address critical issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges,” states the Department of Transportation website.