Fifth Interchange on track for Spring 2018 completion
Change in utility material cited for delay
By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – A little more than 19 months since announcing the low bidder of the highly anticipated project, work on the Fifth Interchange continues.
Delayed by a change in material from one of the utility providers, the portion of the project Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is responsible for – the interchange itself – is now expected to be completed by April 2018 – approximately six months later than the original anticipated completion date of October 2017.
The reason for the time extension, TDOT Community Relations Officer Jennifer Flynn says, is due to a request from Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative for a material change from copper to fiber for their new lines; causing delays for the contractor who had to wait for installation of these items.
“Before a contractor can really get to work on the construction aspect of a project, all utilities that are in the way in the area have to be relocated,” Flynn said. “Twin Lakes requested the changes to the communication items and their request was accepted. Once the request was approved and the materials were ordered, there was a delay from the supplier in furnishing the materials, which caused a delay in the overall project.
“This entire process took 168 days,” she added. “Because the contractor was dealing with circumstances beyond his control, he requested and was granted a time extension.”
According to Flynn, the contractor, Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc. of Sevierville, Tenn., placed binder mix on the eastbound approaches, tying to the concrete on and off ramps, earlier this week. The contractor is also working to complete placement of shoulder stone on the shoulders of the eastbound ramps and mainline Bennett Road on the south end and will be placing leveling asphalt on Bennett Road tomorrow in preparation for having the eastbound ramps open shortly after the Labor Day holiday.
This opening will only be for the eastbound ramps, the bridge will be closed as work continues to progress on concrete pours for the ramps on the westbound side, Flynn explained.
After that, placement of permanent signs for I-40 eastbound will be underway with guardrail installation expected to begin the first full week of September.
TDOT is constructing the interchange only. The local connector roads are being overseen by the city of Cookeville.
The current cost of the project stands at $23,251,151.48 – up from the bid price of $22,993,169.69.