MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - After years of planning and securing more than $40 million, work has begun to revamp Elvis Presley Boulevard. Thursday the improvement project broke ground. Some of the improvements include sprucing up the 3 mile stretch of the street, sidewalks, lights, and landscaping. Some of the ground work has already started.
"Utility crews are underground, re-routing wires, looking where they can move poles and wires,” said Councilman Harold Collins.
Collins represents Whitehaven and this project topped his priority list for years. Allocating the money, $43 million to be exact, was the biggest challenge.
"Finally, in the last couple of years the state has stepped up a $27 million commitment, city council has stepped up and provided a $16 million commitment so we're in a position now where we can do these improvements,” said Deputy City Engineer of Memphis John Cameron.
Crews will work on Elvis Presley Boulevard from Shelby Drive to Brooks Road. Improvements include building sidewalks, landscaping, utilities, and lighting. Thousands of tourists from all over the country travel this stretch to visit Graceland.
"Tourism is a major employer and the more we can grow it the better off our citizens are going to be,” said Mayor A C Wharton.
Collins says the improvement project has already attracted new hotel chains and restaurants, something which he says can benefit tourists and residents.
"Families like mine that live in Whitehaven can go and have a descent meal and sit down,” said Collins. “There are families that have been here for over 30 years, they have not moved, they have not left and they deserve to have something that they can be proud of.”
Major construction on phase one of the project is expected to begin next month. The project will take 4 to 5 years to complete.