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Project to upgrade, expand transportation infrastructure could cost more

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A project that will upgrade and expand transportation infrastructure from uptown Memphis to South Main and across the Harahan Bridge could end up costing more than originally planned.

The project is called Main Street to Main Street. It will use the Harahan Bridge over the Mississippi River to connect Main Street in West Memphis, AR, to Main Street in Memphis.

After securing funding and grants from local, regional, and federal sources, the budget spiked and more money appears to be needed to complete the project.

Organizers insist the project will boost the global image of Memphis, Tennessee.

"International, significant project. The secretary of transportation just visited a couple of weeks ago and was saying this is a national model of the Obama administration's progress," said Paul Morris, Main Street to Main Street project director.

Morris says $32 million is already committed to the project, coming from about 12 different sources that include private funding, state funding, and federal grants. But the project needs more money.

"The project will be around $40 million and it will be done by 2016," explained Morris. "But that is not a budget or a promise, it is an estimate based upon what we currently know."

Morris says his team is fielding estimates and should have a more definitive budget number at the end of the month. What may be the most costly improvements are the repairs needed on the Harahan Bridge.

"There was a slight concern about the existing steel stringers that go east to west," said Morris. "Those stringers were damaged and the engineers recommended that out of an abundance of caution we should replace the steel stringers and that is an expensive item."

Organizers say they will be looking for more dollars from all of their current sources of funding. The mayor's office is working to help secure more private investments.

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