(WMC-TV) - Construction is forging ahead along Madison Avenue in Memphis after a six-month battle over bicycle lanes.
Saturday, Memphis city crews repaved Madison Avenue between McNeil and Cooper. Cyclist Linda Kee is thrilled about the next step: Stripes with designated bicycle lanes.
"It's going to be a great thing for us to be able to ride and not have to worry about the traffic," Kee said.
But the bicycle lanes came with a fight. Cyclists held rallies voicing concerns about road safety. And, small business owners along the 1.9 mile stretch of road said replacing two lanes of automobile traffic with bicycle traffic would take a bite out of business.
Midtowners Rockell and Willie Robinson believe the project benefits motorists and bicyclist alike.
"I don't know what the disadvantage would be," Rockwell Robinson said. "I was happy that it was being done because it's a little bumpy over here."
"I had a friend in Dallas that was killed practicing for a decathlon and they didn't have any bicycle lanes," Willie Robinson added.
Asphalt milling began two weeks ago, even as the Memphis City Council debated the issue. Early last week, the council's attorney released a legal opinion that roads are the mayor's call, and Madison would not be repaved if the city didn't accept the federal grant that's fully funding the project.
One completed, Madison will feature a bicycle lane in each direction, one lane of auto traffic in each direction, one lane for parking on both sides of the street and a center turning lane.
"It's an upgrade," Willie Robinson said. "It improves the road."
Construction should be complete by the end of the month.