MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Improvements are coming soon to Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Nearly three miles of improvements will be made between Shelby Drive and Brooks Road.
Project elements include street improvements as well as safety features like sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrians.
Mayor Jim Strickland joined other city leaders at a news conference Thursday to discuss the plans. Construction began March 27 on the north segment from Winchester Road to Commercial Parkway. It’s expected to last until September 2020.
The initial work will take place on the east side of the road and affect northbound traffic. Traffic will be down to two lanes in each direction for the entirety of the project.
“It invites more people to the community,” said Strickland.
The Memphis City Council first approved the overhaul in 2012, to be paid for with a combination of state and city funds.
Strickland's administration put it in motion in the past few years.
The improvements come in three stages, all the way from Brooks Road to Shelby Drive.
The first two sections will include three lanes of traffic, bike and pedestrian lanes, along with greenery.
It will be a welcome mat for the thousands of visitors who come to the area annually to see Graceland.
"People are looking for this. We have too many people that tour this city," said Hazel Moore, community leader.
"This is so exciting for our community, not just for visitors but for the people who live here because now we can be proud of the Elvis Presley corridor," said Patrice Robinson, city council member.
It comes as city leaders have said there is an agreement in the works for Elvis Presley Enterprises to expand with a manufacturing facility and sound stages and eligible incentives, but without a concert arena which has been the source of contention.
WMC Action News 5 spotted EPE’s Joel Weinshanker and other EPE officials Wednesday leaving city hall.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Weinshanker threatened to move Graceland to Nashville, Asia, or even the Middle East over the spat.
Strickland said that's not realistic.
"It's not going to happen. The Graceland mansion is not going to move. I don't believe that the hotel and attractions here are going to move either," said Strickland.
The city council still has to approve the EPE plan. They have not done so yet.
As for the Elvis Presley road improvements, drivers should expect lane reductions and congestion during this process.