Connection Complete

Opening of eight-mile stretch finishes long-awaited Tenn. 385

By Amos Maki

State and local officials will cut the ribbon on the last piece of Tenn. 385 on the morning of Friday, Nov. 22, and the eight-mile stretch of road will open to motorists later in the day.

Workers hang signage  over Tenn. 385 between Collierville and Piperton, preparing for the road’s completion. The finished roadway, in the works for more than 20 years, opens to traffic Friday afternoon.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The roughly eight-mile section between Macon Road and Tenn. 57 in Piperton is the final piece of a nearly 50-mile route that travels from Millington through Arlington and south through Fayette County and into Collierville before linking back to Interstate 240 in the city of Memphis. Work on the $74 million section began in November 2009.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and former Gov. Winfield Dunn will join other state and local officials for the 10 a.m. groundbreaking ceremony, which includes a motorcade from Collierville’s Town Hall. The section that will be opened Friday will be designated as Governor Winfield Dunn Parkway and will open to motorists at 4 p.m.

Tenn. 385 was built to provide a more direct route to Collierville and Fayette County, which have increasingly become a destination for residents over the last 15 to 20 years. Portions of the state route eventually will be included in Interstate 269, the planned outer loop around Memphis.

The opening of the final portion of Tenn. 385 comes as the state prepares to launch a massive overhaul of the Interstate 40-Interstate 240 interchange.

“I do expect it to provide an alternate route,” said TDOT spokeswoman Nichole Lawrence.

The interchange work, which will start later this fall, is expected to be completed by summer of 2017. The four-year project will encompass Sycamore View Road to the east, White Station Road to the west, Walnut Grove Road to the south and Covington Pike to the north.

The project will include the state’s first four-level interchange, including a towering 75-foot-high flyover ramp leading from the north loop of I-40 to the eastbound lanes on I-40. Crews will also complete the dead-end ramp from westbound I-40 to the north loop and replace the existing I-40 bridge over the Wolf River.

State officials said the $109 million project, the largest contract ever awarded by the state, will improve traffic flow on the heavily traveled interstate system and the roads that lead to it. Average daily vehicle counts in the area range from around 97,000 vehicles to nearly 150,000 vehicles. The state projects the interchange will need to handle more than 350,000 vehicles daily by 2035.