ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — The State Route 91-Elk Avenue Construction project has been pushed back. The initial end date for the project was June 30, but the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) said due to unexpected utility conflicts it will now be mid to late fall of 2023.
TDOT said the project is to widen the roads, making them safer and more efficient for Carter County residents. The State Route 91 project will be more than just widening the roads, officials say, and for more information on what the project consists of you can visit TDOT’s website.
Some businesses in the construction zone of the Elk Avenue project have relocated or temporarily shut down. Others that chose to stay open are ready for the project to be finished, as they say it’s been an inconvenience.
Richard Oaks, Manager at the Blue Circle Market and Poor Trav’s Deli, said the construction has blocked off some entryways to the establishment.
“The parking’s been kind of rough, noises and debris everywhere,” said Oaks. “It’s made it hard for people to pull through and pull out.”
Oaks said he feels like the construction is noticeable and deters people from the deli.
“They drive by, they might see a bunch of construction and think, well, I’ll just come back another time,” said Oaks. “It’s probably affected that a little bit.”
But for other businesses like Nanny’s Country Cookin’, the construction has had a big impact. Kim Scalf, Owner of Nanny’s, said when they started working on E. Elk Avenue right in front of the restaurant, it was almost detrimental to her business.
“It almost destroyed it, but thankful to the lord, he’s provided,” said Scalf. “He’s brought people in because at one point, they had the road closed down to where people were afraid to come through.”
E. Elk Avenue did open back up, but Scalf said she had to make changes to compensate for the loss during that time.
“We just had to really cut back on help, we had to do majority of it ourselves, which we’re a real small business anyway,” said Scalf. “We live out of our business, that’s where our income comes from and we have four grandchildren that we raise so it got scary.”
Although the construction for the State Route 91 project has been an inconvenience for businesses in the area, both Blue Circle Market and Poor Trav’s Deli and Nanny’s Country Cookin’ said that they know the project will be worth the wait.
“It will look good and it’ll be safer because right now, it’s very dangerous,” said Scalf. “Also that will bring us more business, it will make our town better.”
Richard Oaks said the project will help the city’s economic growth.
“I grew up in Elizabethtown, I’ve watched it develop all my life,” said Oaks. “These things come in and new things get built. It’s just a part of it, as the town expands and grows, it’s going to need more road access.”
TDOT told News Channel 11 that major paving operations are anticipated to begin in the next few weeks but could be later based on coordination efforts.