Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times Tennessee is investing roughly $291,000 into a road safety project on Highway 52 to address accidents and fatalities near Westside Elementary School, with completion slated for September.

Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times

Tennessee is investing roughly $291,000 into a road safety project on Highway 52 to address accidents and fatalities near Westside Elementary School, with completion slated for September.

Tennessee is investing close to $1.5 million into Macon County's roadways, with projects on Highway 52 and Highway 10 due for completion this fall.

"We've got two active construction programs," State Sen. Mark Pody said. "One is on Highway 52 from Green Grove Road. The state's going to putting in about $291,000 into that program, and it should be done around September. We also have about eight miles from Ellington Drive to the Kentucky state line, and it's going to be about $1.2 million the state's investing. That also has an October 2019 completion date."

Macon County Mayor Steve Jones said that the projects will see those roadways resurfaced in order to address safety concerns.

"That's a safety project (on Highway 52) because of accidents and fatalities over near Westside School," Jones said. "We've asked the state to look into that. They're in the process of reworking that area, doing some resurfacing and signage with safety funds."

Jones also noted that deteriorating road conditions on Highway 10 have made it a priority for the county.

"Anyone that drives it can see how unsafe it is," Jones said. "It hasn't been resurfaced in years, and the salt tears our roads up during the winter when it's put down ahead of snow."

The two projects are being funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) as part of its annual budget.

"We have a Region 3 (the division including Macon County) yearly resurfacing budget, and the safety improvements a lot of times will come from a safety audit," TDOT Community Relations Officer Kathryn Schulte said. "Resurfacing is basically on cycles depending on what type of roadway it is, and legislative projects are determined every year in a three-year plan."

According to Pody, TDOT often consults regional planning offices when distributing funds, which allows county officials to emphasize which projects are most important to them.

"They divide the money to all three grand divisions, so Memphis or Nashville isn't receiving everything," Pody said. "Typically, once it gets into three-year plans, they'll only fund enough for one phase, like engineering … but these two projects are in the final construction phase."

Pody also said that the state legislature plans to pursue a project that would see a bridge built over the Cumberland River at the intersection of Highway 10 South and Highway 141.

"I think (the bridge) is going to make Macon County a lot more accessible," Pody said. "And it will help with some of the tourism dollars we're missing out on as well as industry, because it will take time off traveling for the people coming up there. It's probably a 10-minute savings, but that makes a significant difference when an industry's looking for ways to get their product out."