Work begins on section of new interstate in Union City

For months you’ve seen construction along the Purchase Parkway in Calvert City, Kentucky, for the Interstate 69 project. In Tennessee, leaders hope I-69 can give drivers a new interstate to take from Interstate 24 all the way down to Dyersburg.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Tuesday on the second phase of construction of I-69 in Tennessee. The interstate is being constructed in three parts in Union City.

One part is done, except for pavement. Tuesday’s groundbreaking marked the start of work on the second part. Tennessee is still raising money for the third, which will connect I-69 to Kentucky.

For the past 50 years, Paula Flower’s family-owned restaurant, Corner Barbeque, just off Highway 51, has been in the perfect spot to attract customers from near and far, from all directions.

"We’ve always been kind of a crossroads," Flowers said.

Progress made on the new interstate that goes right around Union City has her a bit concerned.

"They’re not going to swing through our little town and see our little businesses. I’m hoping it won’t hurt us too bad," she said.

At Tuesday’s groundbreaking celebration, Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer says the interstate could mean nothing but good things for the area.

"It has a whole lot to do with how people travel and where they go. And, for the continued economic development of the area, it needs to be done," Schroer said.

Schroer says there’s still along way to go on the project. He says, without enough funding, it will be 20 more years before it’s done. "A road that has no asphalt on it isn’t going to do you any good. It will not do any good for this area," he said.

Schroer is pushing for federal funding to complete the project, while Flowers stays hopeful it will help the area by bringing new businesses to town.

"If it does that, that’s what we need. But if it doesn’t come back in a year, I’ll be crying," Schroer said.

"Flowers will actually have to wait longer than that to find out how it will impact her, because it’s going two and a half years before phase two of the project is completed. Schroer says this phase is about $46 million. The entire Union City project is about $178 million. The state is still trying to get funding to begin work on the third and final phase of the project.     

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