* What: The state is planning a three-stage upgrade of Apison Pike starting with a new road from the Volkswagen Drive/I-75 interchange to Old Lee Highway and Apison Pike.
* Cost: $9.6 million for road to Apison Pike
* Completion: December 2012
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he plans to follow through on a pledge by his Democrat predecessor to build a highway that benefits McKee Foods Corp.
"We're going to drive road projects by where they can help produce jobs the best," the new Republican governor said. "That's why the McKee Baking road is an important one."
McKee spokesman Mike Gloekler said he's pleased with the remarks by the governor, who spoke with business and political leaders at an economic development roundtable at UTC on Friday.
"It's more of a direct route," said Gloekler, adding the improved road will save the Collegedale snack food company time and money.
State Rep. Gerald McCormick, the Republican House majority leader from Chattanooga, said the road work was promised under former Gov. Phil Bredesen. McKee announced in 2006 an expansion in Collegedale of more than $50 million that was to create about 175 jobs.
McCormick said that since Haslam has announced his administration is doing a top-down review of state government, he wanted assurances the project will continue.
Haslam said he has been to McKee's facilities, met with company officials and understands how important the road is to them.
"Working with existing employers is incredibly important," he said.
Haslam said Deputy Gov. Claude Ramsey also reminded him of the project.
"Having Claude Ramsey as deputy governor is good for Tennessee and not so bad for this area either," the governor quipped.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...