|TDOT Tour highlights projects in Wilson|
|Tuesday, September 25, 2012|
By PATRICK HALL and SABRINA GARRETT
Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and other TDOT officials gave local elected officials updates on all the department’s construction projects in Wilson County during Monday’s Projects Tour.
This is the second year the department has conducted the tour, which gives elected officials a chance to see and know what is going on in their communities. Schroer said TDOT is trying to improve communication with the communities where projects are being done.
Locally, TDOT is working on widening Interstate 40 between Mt. Juliet and Highway 109, building a new bridge over the Cumberland River between Wilson and Sumner Counties and widening Highway 141 to Hartsville.“One of the big goals we have at TDOT is working with our local officials and partners,” Schroer said. “Part of this tour is having relationships with our local partners.”
On the first leg of the tour, those in attendance were ferried across the Cumberland on a boat tour of the Hwy. 109 bridge site. Mt. Juliet-based Britton Bridge, LLC has been working on the $29 million project since January 2011. The expected completion date is October 2013.
TDOT Civil Engineering Director Wayne Seger said the old Hwy. 109 bridge was opened in 1954, before the Old Hickory Lake reservoir was created.
“That old bridge became really structurally deficient,” Seger said.
Seger noted the new bridge will be approximately 1,600 feet long and will be 10 feet higher than the old bridge. It will include two lanes in both directions with a raised median in between and sidewalks on each side.
TDOT Regional Director Winston Gaffron Jr. said building the new bridge so close to the existing old bridge has been a positive step for the department. He said the contractor uses the old bridge to deliver supplies and pour concrete, instead of bringing materials in across the river.
“That’s saved us a lot of time and money,” Gaffron said.
Gaffron also noted with the exception of a few instances, Britton Bridge workers have only closed lanes on the old bridge at night to avoid major traffic issues.
“You can’t shut down a lane for very long without traffic backing up 3 or 4 miles,” Gaffron said.
According to TDOT studies, the current Average Daily Traffic, or ADT, that passes over the bridge is 24,000 vehicles. The department expected the ADT to increase to 34,000 by 2032.
“It’ll handle traffic projections for the next 20 years,” said Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer Paul Degges.
Degges noted the department also plans to widen the rest of Hwy. 109 in Wilson County from Highway 70 to the bridge.
“We have a project under development to widen Hwy. 109 from Hwy. 70 all the way to the bridge,” Degges said.
The new bridge will be a combination of concrete and steel, but Degges said the steel beams will not be painted to reduce maintenance costs. Degges explains they are using “weathering steel” that has a thin layer of rust on the surface, preventing further rusting from taking place.
He said the cost of painting the bridge and having to renew the paint and keep up maintenance as a product of the painting would cost far more than using the weathering steel.
“Painting a bridge like this costs over $1 million,” he said.
Following the bridge tour, officials returned to Lebanon for a detailed presentation on the widening of I-40 at the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce.
At the luncheon, Schroer explained that TDOT strives to complete all projects in a safe, efficient and timely manner to fit the needs of Tennessee’s taxpayers. Schroer and Director of the Construction Division Brian Eagen gave a detailed slideshow of TDOT’s construction project to widen I-40, from just east of Mt. Juliet Road to east of Hwy. 109, from four lanes to eight lanes by December 2013.
Plans for the project were announced to the public earlier this year, but Eagen said planning began in December 2010. “That following January we had our kick-off meeting,” he said.
The project is TDOT’s fourth use of a design-build method, which Eagen said could cut construction time by 10 months. He said the design-build is unique in that it combines design and construction phases into a single contract, using one contractor for both final design and construction work.
“A design-build shortens construction time, and construction can begin before all design details are final,” he said. “It also reduces claims due to design errors.”
In May 2007, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation allowing the department to conduct design-build projects, and Eagen explained they started small on a $600,000 project before moving up to a $21 million project.
“If we made a mistake, we didn’t want to make it on a $50 million job,” Eagen said. “But no mistakes were made.”
The job of widening of I-40 was awarded to Lane Construction at a cost of $65 million. Improvements include four 12-foot-wide travel lanes, with one HOV lane in each direction, 10-foot-wide paved outside shoulders and 12-foot-wide paved inside shoulders.
Eagen said that during construction, some nighttime closures are to be expected; however, these closures will only be from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and will not include holidays, or special events days like the Country Music Marathon, CMA Festival or Tennessee Titans home games.
Once the project is completed, Eagen said a truck parking area east of Mt. Juliet Road in the eastbound lane of I-40 will close permanently as TDOT plans to use it to store roadway salt and other materials. The truck parking area is currently closed as the contractor is using it for storage. Eagen said the westbound truck stop area will open as normal after construction is completed.
TDOT Project Planning Director Steve Allen included an update on the state of their project on the Lebanon Public Square, saying that precautions must be taken after several pedestrian injuries occurred in the past few years.
Allen said that they will have a roundabout flow of traffic, with parking in a reverse movement. Allen admitted that the project is not a “perfect solution,” but was the best one they could create at present time.