RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Rutherford County has the fifth most business-friendly climate in the nation and ranks third for job growth.
But some local officials say unless several road projects are funded, the county could lose out on future development and jobs.
That’s why they’re hoping state transportation leaders will make several interchanges and road projects a priority.
One of those interchanges, exit 89 on Interstate 24, is particularly dangerous, and county officials want improvements made before someone gets seriously hurt or killed.
It’s the perfect recipe for a traffic gridlock on Epps Mills Road with semi after semi and many local vehicles.
“There is a massive amount of trailer trucks entering the road here,” said Greg Brooks, the Rutherford County Highway Superintendent.
The interchange wasn’t built to handle the sure volume of traffic, according to local officials.
“It was built many years ago when there was no development in this area. Now with the average daily trips with the development, it’s antiquated,” Brooks explained.
There have also been many crashes on or near the narrow two-lane bridge, making it one of the most dangerous roads in the county.
“Yes, it’s very dangerous because of the amount of traffic not just in this area, but the interstate these days,” Brooks said.
Mayor Earnest Burgess voiced his concerns at one of Governor Bill Haslam’s transportations meetings he’d been conducting across the state.
“All of this, as you well know, are back-logged, $6 billion needed just for road projects,” Burgess told News 2.
He said the only solution is to make improvements and expand the interchange.
Mayor Burgess explained the industry park off Joe B. Jackson Parkway is bursting at the seam with new businesses and industry, so the Epps Mill Road area is the idea place for future development.
He says that won’t happen unless improvements are made.
“With the projected continued growth within Rutherford County, we need some other parcels of property that might be available for continued economy expansion and development. That’s why we feel strongly about the Epps Mill Road interchange,” Burgess added.
News 2 acquired a letter from state Senator Jim Tracy addressed to local officials about his plans to introduce legislation in January 2016 mandating the return of $250 million to the transportation fund for overdue highway projects, including Epps Mill Road.
Sen. Tracy plans to make this his top priority.
At least for now, drivers will have a much smoother ride on Epps Mill. Crews with the Tennessee Department of Transportation were out Monday paving the road.