MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It's one of the most aggravating highways in Tennessee and after more than a decade of talk, TDOT is closer than ever to starting an expansion project.
Lamar Avenue, also known as Highway 78, runs east to west from the Mississippi River in Memphis to the Mississippi border. Businesses on Lamar aren't sure if they will see any construction work soon.
Highway 78 is one of the most heavily traveled roads in the city. It only has four lanes and is often jammed with semi-trucks. The city says the state is finalizing its environmental report, with the hope to expand Lamar from four lanes to six from the Mississippi state line to I-240.
Bruce Crow is the President of Crow's Truck Service on Lamar, and he says he's heard it before. "It's been one thing after another, and they're out of money."
Since the 1980's Crow's Truck Service has been located near the Mississippi border on Lamar. He's watched as the traffic has become more congested and listened as TDOT promised expansion.
Crow has stacks of blueprints provided by TDOT. "This is the last set I got and it's a 2003 date." He said despite the plans, he's seen nothing except more congestion.
Truck driver Quinten Nathan said, "This travel is pretty rough for truck drivers going through Atlanta, Georgia, and Mississippi."
Crow added, "We have customers that get off the Interstate at Lamar and 40 and it takes 30-45 minutes to get here and that's 7 miles."
In the next few months TDOT planners will be looking at the long range plan for Lamar. It includes widening the highway and building interchanges, a plan that could cost $275 million. The project will be done in phases because of the cost.
Crow said he'll believe it when he sees it. "I don't understand how it could take this long for a problem that is this big."
Widening the highway could cut down on travel times by 36 percent.