Highway 14 expansion funded by federal stimulus dollars - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Highway 14 expansion funded by federal stimulus dollars

By Justin Hanson - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

COVINGTON, TN (WMC-TV) - Tennessee is one of the top five states in the country when it comes to the amount of stimulus money it gets from the federal government to invest in highway improvement.  And now, some of that money is being used right here in West Tennessee.

Dirt is being moved and trees are being knocked down in an effort to make driving along Highway 14 between Tipton and Shelby counties easier and safer. For travelers on this dangerous stretch of roadway, officials say construction couldn't have come at a better time.

"It's gonna make it a lot easier to move equipment down the roadway as opposed to driving on the shoulder," resident Clint Watkins said.

"I drive an 18-wheeler.  We're hauling beans today and it's dangerous," Johnny Leach added.

Federal stimulus dollars are funding the project, which will eventually make Highway 14 a four-lane road from Highway 385 (Paul Barrett Parkway) in Shelby County to Highway 59 in Tipton County. 

"Anytime you have a highway that's 2 lanes where traffic is coming at each other...right next to each other, it poses a threat," said Tipton County Sheriff Pancho Chumley.

That threat is an increase in serious accidents.  Sheriff's deputies say there were 39 crashes along Highway 14 in Tipton County in 2008.

Chumley patrols the highway and says the 6,000 drivers that travel this area each day need to beware.

"It is a corridor for drug trafficking and everyone remembers January sixth of 2007 when Trooper Calvin Jenks was killed just down the busy road here," he said.

Tennessee House members also hope the new road will bring new growth to this rural area.

"Just look at Fayette County and Highway 64. Once it was four lane all the way to Oakland, we just had a major growth spurt and now Fayette County has seen a lot of business," said State Representative Barrett Rich.

Officials say the current phase of this project should be completed by November of 2011.

To learn more about this project, click here.

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