In Memphis, just like in any other metropolitan area, traffic congestion and poor highway infrastructure cause much more than just headaches. They also cause delays, put limits on interstate commerce and lead to wasted gas and costly automobile repairs.
Even worse, unsafe and congested roads are direct contributors to many Memphis motor vehicle accidents. Overcrowded roads can lead to dangerous merging accidents and rear-end collisions. In addition, drivers who are overly stressed from waiting in traffic may be more likely to become distracted. Unsafe intersections and on-ramps also play a significant role in causing car accidents.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently released a three-year plan to improve outdated infrastructure, both in Memphis and throughout the state. It hopes that the construction projects will improve roadway safety while maximizing economic development throughout the state.
Some of the projects in southwestern Tennessee include:
- Interchange improvements on Interstate 40 in Fayette, Haywood and Shelby Counties
- Widening three sections of S.R. 76/U.S. 79 in Gibson and Carroll Counties
- Widening 3.5 miles of S.R. 128 in Hardin County
- Widening S.R. 4/U.S. 78 in Shelby County near the Mississippi state line
TDOT's work in other parts of the state will focus on reconstructing highway interchanges, adding truck climbing lanes and improving highway on- and off-ramps.
According to the Memphis Police Department, there were more than 26,700 car accidents and 101 car accident fatalities in the Memphis area in 2009. Hopefully, these infrastructure improvements will play a role in reducing accident rates throughout Tennessee.
Source: The Trucker, "Tennessee Announces 3-Year Infrastructure Program," April 13, 2012.