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Road project estimated to cost $8.9M
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Getting road access to a 218-acre property owned by the McMinnville-Warren County Industrial Development Board has been a continual source of discussion.


On Thursday, TDOT presented a new option that will connect the proposed road directly to Manchester Highway. The road is estimated to cost $8.9 million and be just under one mile long.


The road is needed because the Industrial Development Board purchased the 218 acres for $981,000 two years ago without any right of way access. The property is currently landlocked.


Months ago, TDOT presented a proposal that would have made road access through the town of Morrison. Truck traffic would have gone down Maple Street, over the railroad tracks and through an area near the ballparks to reach the 218 acres known as Elam Industrial Site.


That plan was nixed by local officials, who want a straight shot to the highway and who don’t want to be a nuisance to Morrison residents.


A new option presented Thursday by TDOT representative Danielle Hogewood has the road making a straight line to Manchester Highway. It would enter the highway in the neighborhood of the new Dakota Doors building.


“Out traffic engineering team has determined it doesn’t present a safety risk at that point,” said Hogewood.


Before TDOT will consider beginning the road project to Elam Industrial Site: 1) the land must be Site Certified by the state, or 2) an industry must make a firm commitment to locate there.


Hogewood stressed that building a road is a long-range project. There is surveying, engineering work, and right-of-way acquisition which have to be done before any construction can begin.


“It usually takes about two years before we get to the point where there’s actual construction,” Hogewood said. She also noted since the road will be going over a railroad track, that adds an extra layer of stipulations to work around.


The road, as presented by Hogewood, would have two 12-foot lanes and two 4-foot paved shoulders.


IDB members questioned what would have to happen to get the site certified so TDOT can begin the process.


“At this point we need to get that site certified and know where the money will be coming from in our budget to pay for it,” said IDB member Jenny Nafrada.


IDB president Trevor Galligan asked IDB executive director Don Alexander if he could brief board members on the status of site certification at the next board meeting in February.


“Could we get a checklist of what’s been done and what needs to be done for site certification?” asked Galligan.


Alexander said that site certification has begun and he will provide an update at the next monthly meeting. He indicated a prospect has already looked at the land.


Buying landlocked property with no nearby utility access has been a source of concern for some IDB members in recent months. The property was selected in 2019 because it’s as close to I-24 as you can get and still be in Warren County.


Alexander says it’s a long-range project which will benefit the community.


“There are not many good sites like we have with rail access available in the state,” said Don.


Much of the cost of the $8.9 million road project can be shared with TDOT at a 50-50 split.