It only took a couple decades.

A partial extension of Mack Hatcher Parkway is included in the list of the next three years of projects released by state Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer Tuesday.

Construction will start in 2018 on a 3.6- mile quarter circle, extending the Parkway across Hillsboro Road to meet Highway 96 near Westhaven.

The City of Franklin has already paid $5 million for the project. In 2009, TDOT studied the extension and each year since residents and leaders crossed their fingers for the traffic relief. It will allow thousands of commuters to bypass downtown Franklin. A TDOT April 2015 study showed it anticipates the average daily traffic around Mack Hatcher Parkway to range from 7,400-37,000 vehicles per day in 2020. That number is projected to increase to 10,500-53,500 vehicles per day in 2040 with this phase one improvement.

TDOT’s three-year plan features approximately $2.6 billion in infrastructure investments for 101 individual project phases in 40 counties, as well as 15 statewide programs.

The three-year program is more robust than previous years, due to funding increases through the IMPROVE Act, which is projected to raise an additional $150 million to meet the state’s infrastructure needs in 2018. This increase, combined with $120 million repayment to the highway fund, provides the necessary funds to move several backlogged and new transportation projects forward in the first year of the program. Mack Hatcher, long ready to be built, is among these.

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