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VOL. 132 | NO. 31 | Monday, February 13, 2017

County Seeks Public Input of Possible Hacks Cross Project

By Patrick Lantrip

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Shelby County officials and representatives from civil engineering firm Powers Hill Design presented plans to widen parts of Hacks Cross Road at a public meeting Thursday, Feb. 9.

(Google maps)

The proposed improvements to the 1.8-mile stretch of Hacks Cross between Shelby Drive and Stateline Road hope to alleviate residential and industrial traffic congestion that plague the heavily traversed thoroughfare between Tennessee and Mississippi.

“We’re looking at widening it to somewhere between five and seven lanes,” county engineer Darren Sanders said. “We’re going to do some initial evaluations as we get into the design phase, but it will be at least five, possibly seven, depending on what the data that comes back show.”

The public information meeting was the first major step county officials have taken since Powers Hill Design was tapped by the Shelby County Commission to handle the environmental portion of the project, which falls under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

“Typically with projects like this, you get funding through the state, but you have to wait for that funding to be available,” Steve Hill, principal of Powers Hill Design, said. “But the county realized how important this project was and they didn’t want to stand in line for money, so they went ahead and funded the NEPA phase.”

The NEPA phase requires any organization receiving federal funds to research the environmental, historical and quality-of-life implications their project will have on the surrounding area.

Now that the public meeting has been held, the county will submit its request to TDOT to begin the design phase, for which the county has already submitted a request for quotation.

Hill said it should be an approximately a $1.5 million design project, with $300,000 coming from county funds and $1.2 million from the federal government.

After that, the process of acquiring rights-of-way will begin.

Hill estimated it may take roughly a year or two to appraise and acquire all of the land they may need to complete the project.

While the county may initially only expand the road to five lanes, Hacks Cross may eventually grow to be as wide as 127 feet and include a six-foot bike lane, which is a standard addition to most expansion efforts funded with federal money.

“We have to make sure we cover everything we think we need,” Hill said. “They will let you go back and go a little bit smaller, but if you try to go outside of your NEPA, you have to start all over again.”

Hill said that in 2013 alone, 128 crashes occurred on that segment of Hacks Cross Road alone, but thanks in part to restriping efforts, the number of crashes was reduced to 97 last year.

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