Drivers ecstatic after Memphis expands street-paving program

Drivers ecstatic after Memphis expands street-paving program

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - After one of the worst, pothole-plagued winters in recent memory, City of Memphis crew have finally started repaving roads.

They're having to play catch up, starting with streets that were supposed to be resurfaced last year.

Chimney Rock and Dewberry streets in Cordova were getting a much-needed facelift on Tuesday afternoon.

"I think citizens appreciate that," said Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht. "I mean, one of the things citizens appreciate most is when their street gets repaved."

Knecht said his crews will repave 272 lane miles this year.  The city is on a 25-year repaving schedule, with a total of 6,818 lane miles to keep in tip-top shape.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's proposed 2019 budget earmarks $19 million for street paving, up from $18.5 million in 2018, $16.5 million in 2017 and much more than the $5.8 million the city budgeted in 2010.

"I can't wait to drive on a nice, smooth road," Memphis driver Tori Cole said. "The smooth driving and the leisurely driving with your coffee as you head to work.  I can't wait!"

Cole and other drivers like Latasha Reed welcome a ride free from potholes and stress.

"It's good the roads are finally getting fixed," said Reed, "because it makes it a smoother ride.  And you don't have to constantly buy new tires, you know?"

"Rather than focus on the traffic," said Cole, "sometimes I find myself focusing on the roads and having to avoid potholes which make me swerve into other lanes."

Crews are playing catch-up in some neighborhoods, paving streets originally scheduled for resurfacing in 2017.  Part of the delay is due to bad weather, and sometimes it's because the city has to wait for MLGW barricades to come down.

"We have to work with MLGW," said Knecht, "because we don't want to pave over a street or do anything in advance before they finish their work.  We don't want them cutting the street unnecessarily."

A perfect example of this is Highland.  Any road improvements on that street will have to wait until the utility's done installing new gas mains.

But when that shiny, new blacktop finally does arrive, there's no better feeling for drivers.

"Yes!" Latasha Reed exclaimed.  "It's quiet and it's smooth sailing.  And it's like...ahhhh!  That's how it's supposed to be.  This is great!"

Want to know when your street will get repaved? Here's the link to the city's resurfacing schedule.

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