Chris Woods News

Crows Truck Service leaving Lamar corridor for new $8 million facility

Posted by | October 02 2017

This article originally appeared in the Commercial Appeal

Crows Truck Service leaving Lamar corridor for new $8 million facility

There’s not much movement on the stalled, $300 million project to ease congestion on Lamar in southeast Memphis, but a substantial business is moving out of the way just the same.

Crows Truck Service applied this month for a permit to build up to an $8 million facility at 5500 Davidson Road, near Lamar.

That’s less than a mile from 5278 Lamar, the longtime, 16-acre home of the firm that services trucks, and sells parts and Western Star brand trucks.

“The state has bought our property for the expansion of I-22 corridor,” Nicholas Crow said, referring to the interstate that stretches from Birmingham, through Northeast Mississippi and into Memphis.

The route, formerly U.S. 78, loses its free-flowing, interstate qualities once inside Memphis. It becomes “Lamar,” narrower, much more congested, and slower with stoplights and curb cuts.

Crow is general manager of the company founded by his father and company president Bruce Crow.

“They’ve bought a lot of businesses on 78, and we were one of them unfortunately,” Nicholas Crow said of the right-of-way acquisitions.

Bruce Crow built the facility at 5278 Lamar in 1986, moving it there from Fleetbrook. At the time, Crows only serviced trucks.

 “From there with great employees and customers, we were able to add different things to become a full-service dealership,” Nicholas Crow said. “Now we’re a dealership instead of just a shop. Full service, parts, lease rental fleets and new and used truck sales.”

Crows employs 55 to 60 people.

Lamar expansion long delayed

Lamar in southeast Memphis serves an industrial, warehouse and distribution corridor where 42,000 people work and more than 20 Fortune 500 companies operate facilities.

The route is chronically congested during peak hours. The warehouses and sprawling BNSF Railroad intermodal yard that flank Lamar pour large numbers of tractor-trailers onto the road.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has been planning the road project for many years, but has been unable to nail down enough funding.

The plan is to widen the road from four to six lanes and build three new grade-separated interchanges between the Mississippi state line and Getwell. Those changes would increase vehicle capacity by 50 percent, and reduce the hours of delay during peak periods by 20 to 25 percent.

The state budgeted $165.2 million just for right-of-way acquisition, including the purchase of the Crows property.

“TDOT is still moving forward with the project and is currently working on the (right of way) phase for the first section,” said Kate Horton, transportation planner with the Memphis Metropolitan Organization. The state is looking into re-applying for an Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to help fund the work, she said.

INFRA grants offer dedicated, discretionary money for projects that “address critical issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges,” states the Department of Transportation website.

Crows Truck Service is rebuilding on 17 of 35 acres it purchased at the southwest corner of Davidson Road and Lamar. Bruce Crow bought the land several years ago in anticipation of the forced move.

On the northern half of the new property, Crows for several years has been operating a “drop yard,” where truck owners and operators can park their big vehicles. The plan is to move the drop yard to the southern half of the 35 acres and build the new truck center on the northern 17 acres.

Construction should start by next month or November, and the new facility could be open by next summer. Chris Woods Construction will build it.