(Memphis) For four years traffic on I-55 at Mallory Ave. has been nothing but a mess because construction to widen the interstate crept along.
“[It’s] just kind of slow in Memphis,” said Robert Longo who drives that stretch of the interstate often.
Thursday morning, the majority of the construction was over.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation opened up a stretch of I-55 at Mallory Avenue.
Drivers like Longo are relieved, “It can’t be nothing, but better. You have three or four lanes as opposed to one or two, so it can’t be nothing, but better.”
Even though both sides of the interstate are open, there is still work that needs to be done.
Large construction cones continue to block off lanes as crews work to complete the final part of the project.
“The inside lanes will be closed until the median wall is built and we’re hoping to have those open by Christmas,” said Steve Chipman, who is with the Tennessee Dept. of Transportation.
He said the wider lanes and accessible exit ramps will improve congestion.
The area is heavily used by tanker trucks making stops at the Valero Refinery to pick up fuel.
“The truck traffic into the refinery, the industrial park and it’s really going to help improve the safety in that area,” said Chipman.
Longo believes once the construction is finished, drivers may experience a new problem, “Now it’ll be like the Nonconnah. It’ll be a speed trap through there now. So it can’t be nothing, but good.”
The project was supposed to be completed two years ago, but TDOT said they hope to have the entire project completed by Christmas, when people start traveling for the holidays.