State officials say I-69 project through West Tennessee needs money

By Justin Hanson - bio | email

MUNFORD, TN (WMC-TV) - Four years ago, a portion of Interstate 69 opened up in North Mississippi.  But what's the latest with the interstate project through Memphis, Shelby County, and West Tennessee?

Plans are already in place to turn rural farmland east of Munford into the new interstate.  But will residents in the area ever actually see it anytime soon?

I-69 may be too close for comfort for residents like Ken Royer.  Royer is worried, because the interstate will only be about seven hundred feet from his front door.

"The only advantage I see is to relieve congestion along Highway 51 - that would be the only advantage," Royer said about the interstate.

Project manager Steve Chipman says the I-69 project needs money.  Right now, the West Tennessee portion is only funded through the design phase.

"Tennessee is a pay-as-you-go state, which means if you don't have the money, we don't do it," Chipman said.

As it stands now, the interstate will travel just west of Highway 51 from Millington to Covington.  It will then cross and go east of the highway near the Hatchie River.  It will stay on that path until crossing the highway once again near Dyersburg.

"I think the better design in my situation, from my thoughts, would have been to carry it over to Hwy 14 and extend that all the way up." Royer said.

Some have concerns about how this interstate will affect them.

"I've lived in Seoul, Korea, I've lived in the Philippines...all over...houses up against freeways are not that big of a deal," resident Shannon Hickman said.

Other residents said they were happy that it will get them where they're going a little quicker - if it is actually built.

The next public meeting on the I-69 project through West Tennessee is set for Tuesday, April 20th at Brighton High School.

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