Leaders from two counties officially opened the new look Highway 109 last Wednesday.
The $51 million state project expanded the heavily travelled roadway from two lanes to five lanes, including a turning lane, from Highway 70 to the Sumner County line.
Highway 109 regularly sees daily traffic counts near 24,000 vehicles. By 2038, daily traffic counts are expected to almost double, climbing to 44,890 vehicles per day, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The project took about a year longer than expected because of utility delays, but officials said the important thing is that construction is over and, hopefully, the roadway is safer and more driver friendly.
“Today is a happy day for Wilson County,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, who highlighted several parts of the project, including the new traffic signal and turn lanes at the Academy Road intersection near Homerun Market. “That was an integral part in making this project safety-oriented.”
A TDOT study conducted from 2011-2013 found the roadway averaged more than 430 crashes per year and 30% of those crashes resulted in injuries, including 11 fatalities.
More than half of the fatalities occurred between Highway 70 and the Sumner County line.
Lebanon Mayor Rick Bell said the growth of the roadway aligns with the growth in Wilson County, which is expected to balloon to about 222,300 people by 2040.
“It’s not just a new road. It’s a new era that’s important for the city of Lebanon, but also for Wilson County, Sumner County, and really for the entire Middle Tennessee area,” Bell said.
Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown said the redesigned roadway would have great benefits to Gallatin residents and workers.
“We have about close to 20,000 people that come to our city to work each day, and we estimate that about 25 percent of those actually come in via 109,” Brown said. “This is valuable for them. It’s valuable for our residents.”
Gallatin resident Shay Manning works in Lebanon and said she has seen a vast improvement in traffic and safety since construction was completed last month.
“This is something that was long overdue. Since the completion, traveling down 109 has been much smoother and less stressful,” she said.
The Highway 109 opening comes after Wilson County officials announced a Publix shopping center and Whataburger would be located on the roadway in Lebanon. Construction of the Publix center is underway.