TDOT Officials Say I-69 Project Could Take Decades to Complete
UNION CITY, Tenn. — A decade long project is sill in the works but the Tennessee Department of Transportation says they are hoping to make progress on Interstate 69 soon; but it could take up to 25 years to complete. “Tennessee is a pay-as-you-go state. That means we do not finance any of our projects,” Steve Chipman said, Project Manager, TDOT Region 4. “And so if the money’s there then we’ll do the work if not then we wait until the money is made available.” The once federally mandated project has to be paid for by the state. The interstate, which will run eventually from Canada to Mexico, will go through West Tennessee starting at the Kentucky state line. Discovery Park of America CEO Jim Rippy said he was hoping the project would bring more visitors to Union City. “That was our goal and our hope that if the traffic maybe came off I-40 and start coming up through this direction that we would be able to capitalize on it,” Rippy said. Now that the I-69 project is partially stalled, TDOT said there are three sections to complete, sections seven, eight and nine. The only section that is funded at this point is section seven or the Union City area, currently known as Highway 51. “We need restaurants and hotels here just for Discovery Park but the interstate would sure add to that,” Rippy said. But there are five more overpasses that need to be finished in the Union City area alone, before that section of the interstate can be built. So far construction at only one of the five areas has been started, and it could be six years before that bridge is finished. Right now, the project is being funded through gas taxes.