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State Route 4 (US 78) Lamar Avenue

Shelby County

Overview

State Route 4 (US 78), widely known as Lamar Avenue, is a heavily-traveled corridor beginning southeast of downtown Memphis and running to the Tennessee/Mississippi state line in Shelby County. The route supports a mix of freight and commute-oriented traffic within a highly dense local network of freight, trucking, and industrial development.

The project for Lamar Avenue includes widening the roadway for approximately 5.1 miles.

Purpose and Need

Lamar Avenue is an urban arterial roadway on the National Highway System. It is a nationally and regionally significant multimodal corridor linking interstate highways, airports, maritime ports, and rail. It connects Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, and other major metropolitan cities in the southeast.

The corridor faces crippling congestion, severely impacting the operations of freight facilities, as well as warehouse and distribution centers.

The proposed improvements are intended to address congestion and improve safety. Improvements will also enhance the efficient delivery of products to both domestic and international markets and will promote economic investment and job growth in the region.

Design

Due to the significant size of the project, the proposed improvements will be separated into three smaller sections or phases.

  • from Mississippi state line to south of Shelby Drive (1.4 miles)
  • from south of Shelby Drive to near Raines Road/Perkins Road Interchange (1.9 miles)
  • from near Raines Road/Perkins Road Interchange to State Route 176 (Getwell Road) (1.8 miles)

The proposed improvements include widening Lamar Avenue from four to six lanes and construction of three new interchanges at Holmes Road, Shelby Drive, and Winchester Road, as well as modifications to the existing interchanges at Raines Road/Perkins Road and Getwell Road. The project will also address pavement deficiencies along the existing lanes of travel.

Additionally, improvements will include complementary technology investments to support active traffic management of the corridor to improve travel reliability.

History

Improving mobility and reducing congestion on Lamar Avenue has been a focus of study for over 15 years among both public and private stakeholders. The total cost to complete the proposed improvements is estimated at $258 million, which has created funding challenges that have prevented the project from moving forward. TDOT has worked closely with its federal, state, and local partners to aggressively seek funding assistance, and named the project as one of the highest priorities in the Tennessee Statewide Multimodal Freight Plan (approved February 2016).

In June 2016, TDOT applied for Lamar Avenue project funding through the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program, but the project was not selected.

In April 2017, the state passed the Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy (IMPROVE) Act, which helped provide critical funding for the Lamar Avenue project and more than 900 other projects in all 95 Tennessee counties.

In June 2018, TDOT applied for Lamar Avenue project funding through the Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program and was awarded $71.1 million.

The combined funds from the state’s IMPROVE Act and the federal INFRA grant will completely pay for the remaining phases of the three Lamar Avenue projects.