Road improvements to Elvis Presley Boulevard delayed

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Construction on a long-awaited road improvement project for Elvis Presley Boulevard has been delayed again.

WREG uncovered a new bump in the road for the $35 million face lift.

It's basically a paper work problem, but it's causing the city to have to essentially start from scratch with property owners.

We spoke with Whitehaven business owners and residents who say they're tired of waiting.

Construction was slated to soon begin on the first phase of road improvements to Elvis Presley Boulevard.

William Pilot owns a tax and bookkeeping service on Elvis Presley.

He told WREG, "It's embarrassing to see the street like it is."

Pilot has been in business in Whitehaven for 12 years, and for the last few, he's been patiently waiting on the road improvements.

"My neighbors and others in the community are frustrated. I mean, the street is in bad shape."

Vontyna Winfrey is one of those neighbors.  She owns Nails Plus Day Spa which sits next to Pilot's.

"It`s been exhausting. Everyday I keep thinking, 'Well, when are they going to start?"

WREG has learned that start has been delayed yet again.

The city had to first buy land from property owners affected by the first phase of the project from Brooks to Winchester.

While that wrapped up last year, the city now says it's having to go back to those property owners, and have them sign re-drafted deeds based on new state guidelines, guidelines the city says it was just notified about in March.

However, when WREG questioned TDOT about the new guidelines, a spokesperson said that wasn't quite true.

The spokesperson explained, the guidelines being referenced are federal and they haven't changed.

She said TDOT found through an audit that Memphis wasn't following the guidelines correctly, and that's what the city was notified of in March.

State Representative Raumesh Akbari has been closely following the project.

"The Elvis Presley project has been a huge deal in the Whitehaven community."

She explained,  "My understanding of it is, the state is helping to facilitate through the federal government, but this is a city project, with federal funding. The federal guidelines have not changed they have required that the deed and the right of way be on one document."

Technicalities Akbari says residents frankly don't care to hear about.

"I think it would be great it we just stop pointing fingers at folks and kind of just moved forward."

Pilot said, "I believe it`s just time for the city and the state to get together and get this thing moving."

The city told WREG four property owners have signed the newly, drafted paperwork.

They anticipate wrapping up this part of the process by October or November of 2018.

TDOT says it plans to meet with city leaders again soon about the project.

The road improvement project covers Elvis Presley from Brooks Road to Shelby Drive. Construction will occur in three phases.

The project includes new curbs, gutters and pavement. In addition, there will be new sidewalks and lighting.

In early 2017, WREG revealed the city had not started the right of way acquisition process as officials had previously reported. 


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