Whitehaven residents want action from the city

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When you run a barbershop you hear it all.

Charles Jackson is the owner of Blades Barber Shop and Styles in Whitehaven, so there's naturally been a lot of talk lately about the Guest House at Graceland.

"I think it's going to be really good for the neighborhood. It's going to bring a lot more people, lot more revenue.

With that said, Jackson is disappointed with what he calls "the raggedy roads" surrounding the hotel.

"We've heard a lot of stuff over the years. They were going to revitalize Whitehaven and now we see the hotel, but the streets, they were talking about the streets before the hotel."

The Elvis Presley Boulevard Improvements Project, even has its own website. There were also public meetings.

"But it's just sort of stalled out," said WREG Political Commentator Otis Sanford.

The city sent WREG a timeline.

They said Phase One from Winchester to Commercial Parkway is in the final stage of right of way acquisition, with construction "anticipated" to start by late summer 2017.

Phases two and three are in the design phase with construction set to start in 2018 and 2019.

However, according to the project website, the first phase was already supposed to be underway.

TDOT told WREG "the city drives the schedule." It's waiting on paperwork before it passes along the funding.

Public Works Director Robert Knecht said they've had problems obtaining right of way from property owners.

"Some people are much more in tune with that process. Some are a lot more challenging because they have special needs or they're wanting to see how it's going to impact their business."

Sanford discussed this very issue during a recent commentary and said Whitehaven residents are frustrated with waiting.

"These are middle class voters who are very civic minded. They are not happy with how their area is being treated when it comes to economic development."

"They need to break it down into steps and do whatever they need to do to revitalize the streets," said Jackson.

WREG also spoke with City Council member Patrice Robinson who represents Whitehaven. She said the project needs to be a priority for the city because it's such a large and important neighborhood.

Elvis Presley Boulevard Improvements Project Timeline

(Provided by the City of Memphis to WREG on November 3, 2016)

Phase 1 from Winchester to Commercial Pkwy is in final stage of ROW acquisition. Construction is anticipated to begin by Late summer of 2017.

Phase 2 from Craft to Winchester is in final stage of design. Subsequent to ROW acquisition, construction is expected to begin by Summer of 2018.

Phase 3 from Shelby Dr. to Craft is in early stages of design. Following the completion of design, and acquisition of ROW, construction is projected to begin by late 2019.

Full Statement from TDOT:

TDOT is  waiting on the City to submit the right-of-way materials (negotiation logs, appraisals, etc.) to us. The City drives the project schedule. TDOT serves as the quality check to ensure all rules are being followed. After the City finishes acquiring necessary right-of-way (they cannot widen a road until they have purchased the property), they will need to submit construction plans, attain the appropriate environmental permits, develop a final estimate and develop their construction bid book (Construction Proposal Contract). Then, TDOT will be able to authorize construction funding. But, the City engineer is correct. TDOT does have to comment and concur on each of these items listed above.

The funding is waiting on the City for Phase 1 and 2. Why the acquisition of ROW is so behind on the City’s part for Phase 1 is a question for the City. Phases 1 and 2 have been included in TDOT’s 3-year Multimodal Program. Phase 3 has not been included in this program yet. However, since Phase 3 will be constructed last, the Department has committed to have funding available when they are ready to proceed with construction on the last phase.

Although the City will hire a consultant firm to oversee the day-to-day work in the field during construction, TDOT oversee construction as well, again, serving as the quality check.

 

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