26 years later, State Route 840 finally opens

State Route 840, a 78-mi. stretch of divided highway that loops south of Nashville from Interstate 40 near Dickson to Interstate 40 near Lebanon, TN, is finally complete, taking more than 26 years to complete.

Gov. Bill Haslam ceremoniously opened the final portion of the $750 million highway to traffic at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. Former Govs. Don Sundquist and Winfield Dunn and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander also attended the ceremony, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

Talks about the highway project began in 1985 when then Gov. Alexander was in office. The project was hatched to ease traffic congestion and boost economic growth in the area, but construction was delayed by litigation over environmental issues.

Speakers noted that the highway was built without federal money, which saved the state millions of dollars in interest. However, others said the project probably could have been completed much sooner if it weren't for the litigation.

Transportation Commissioner John Schroer made light of the lengthy delays in completing the project when he noted some workers spent their entire careers on State Route 840, then quipped, “some children were born during the building of 840 and now they’re working on the project.

“We have to have some humor in the fact that this has taken a little longer to get done than we would have liked,” he said.

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