One of the most congested intersections in the state is about to see a big makeover, but the traffic is likely going to get worse before it gets better.
More than 60,000 vehicles pass through the intersection that links Broad Street, Memorial Boulevard and Old Fort Parkway, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation is setting out a plan to improve the congestion by adding a bridge over Broad Street.
But not everyone is happy about the massive construction project that is expected to take about three years to complete. Many of the business owners are worried about the impact the construction will have on their businesses.
"It's going to greatly impact us. In the six months of looking at this project, we haven't found a single soul that's in favor of this project," said Henry Huddleston, CEO of Huddleston Oil Company. "More so, they're in a defeated mode where they think it's going to happen and they can't do anything to stop it."
Huddleston and a coalition of other businesses tried to stop construction of the project but to no avail. They say the new bridge will have a negative impact as drivers will no longer have access to College Street from Memorial.
TDOT officials say they will work to minimize problems for the businesses during construction, which is slated to begin in early 2014.
"It's going to be a project that's going to be crucial for this area," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. "We will begin working with the businesses to make sure the traffic continues to flow, and we will try to do as much work at nighttime as possible to make sure it's convenient as possible. Certainly, there will be disruptions. Anytime that happens, there will be lots of orange barrels. To us, orange barrels means progress."
The proposed single-point interchange will be similar to another intersection near Interstate 65. TDOT said they will not simply build a huge concrete monster. Instead, they will try to keep with the historic past of the city with the materials they use and even landscaping.
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