Low bid awarded in fifth interchange project

Cookeville’s fifth interchange project is key for the continued development of the Highlands Business Park, officials say.

COOKEVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has officially awarded a bid in Cookeville’s long-awaited fifth interchange project to a Sevierville-based contractor for nearly $23 million.

Charles Blalock & Sons submitted the lowest bid to build the new Interstate 40 exit at Mine Lick Creek Road. Its bid came in at $22.99 million. TDOT received four bids overall; Rogers Group Inc. ($23.57 million), Jones Bros. Inc. ($24.39 million) and Lojac Enterprises INC. ($27.96 million) also submitted for the project.

TDOT traditionally selects low bidder pending a review. Now that the project has been awarded, all contract-related documents have been executed. A pre-construction conference will follow in which the contractor will discuss the timetable of the project. TDOT is requiring the interchange be open and accessible to all traffic by May 31, 2017. The project is scheduled to be completed in its entirety on or before Oct. 31, 2017.

TDOT construction, environmental, utility and safety personnel will attend that pre-construction conference, along with the contractor, subcontractors and other affected parties. After that date, “the contractor is free to begin work,” department spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said.

The fifth interchange, which will be situated in between the Baxter and Willow Avenue exits, as well as a related state industrial access road, is key for Academy Sports + Outdoors’ development, which is nearing completion, as well as continued development of the Highlands Business Park, which landed its first tenant in Ficosa last year. Academy, formally known as Project Victor, began receiving inventory in December and will ship to a limited number of stores beginning in March, leaders said. Ficosa hopes to begin limited production in mid-2016.

More information will be published as this story develops.

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