TDOT construction could destroy newly repaired $5M Memphis inter - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

TDOT construction could destroy newly repaired $5M Memphis interchange

Interstate 240 and Airways Boulevard interchange. (Source: Chopper 5) Interstate 240 and Airways Boulevard interchange. (Source: Chopper 5)

Plans for a new interchange at Interstate 240 and Airways Boulevard could have city crews ripping up a road they just repaired.

The I-240 and Airways interchange is a diamond style interchange--drivers exiting and getting on the highway are on ramps that create a diamond shape getting onto Airways Boulevard.

The newly proposed change would create a single point interchange instead, meaning all the traffic on Airways and all the traffic getting on and off the highway would be directed by a single stoplight in the middle of the interchange. The change is just a proposal at this point; it's unclear what crews will ultimately do with the interchange.

In 2015, Memphis finished a $5.5 million construction project that created the diamond style interchange.

"It was hectic, because traffic had to be diverted to other areas," Monzi Dean said. "There was a lot of traffic up in here."

Soon, Dean may have to deal with the hectic traffic again, because Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to replace an interchange in the exact same area.

TDOT said it regularly communicates with Memphis about road projects to avoid overlap and wasted repairs.

In this case, the state ordered Memphis to replace the bridge over the Nonconnah Creek after a 2007 study found it structurally deficient.

As soon as the funds were available, Memphis replaced the bridge (the repairs were completed in 2015).

Now, TDOT is planning to replace an interchange in the same area.

"That doesn't make sense to me," Dean said. "There are no problems right there. So, I really don't understand what the city or the state is doing here."

The TDOT project will cost an estimated $43 million. It's not scheduled to start for another 3 to 5 years, but when it's completed the interchange will look similar to Highway 385 and Kirby Parkway.

"It's just going to be chaos again," Jazzy Randolph said. "It's going to be backed up and heavy, just like it was." 

Memphis Public Works released the following statement explaining what's going on with the interchange debate:

What constituted the Airways bridge replacement was that the foundation footing of the bridge was being undermined. In other words the Nonconnah Creek was eroding the footing of the bridge. Funding for that work used FEMA Hazardous Mitigation Grant through Shelby County, there was urgency to make the repair or risk bridge failure. Timing was of the essence for the bridge project.

The TDOT I-240 Interchange Project is being funded using state funds. This is one reason why the two projects did not coincide.  We do not know whether the TDOT project will require tearing up any of the bridge work. We currently understand that TDOT is in right of way acquisition. TDOT are still 3 – 5yrs out for construction. These two projects are unrelated.

TDOT has sought feedback from the City about the TDOT I-240 Interchange Project and the city has encouraged to keep bridge in-tact as currently built.

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