The Tennessee Department of Transportation has yet to officially award the contract – they have up to 30 days from the bid opening to do so – but it appears the low bidder is Sevierville’s Charles Blalock & Sons at $22.99 million. Rogers Group, Jones Bros. Inc. and Lojac Enterprises also submitted for the project; its bid was nearly $28 million. TDOT is currently reviewing the bid, department spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said.
Once officially awarded, all contract-related documents will be 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.
Flynn said TDOT construction, environmental, utility and safety personnel will attend that conference, along with the contractor, subcontractors and other affected parties.
After that date, “the contractor is free to begin work,” she added.
Bids were let Friday, Dec. 4. The fifth interchange – a new Interstate 40 exit at Mine Lick Creek Road, in between the Baxter and Willow Avenue exits – is a key piece to Academy Sports + Outdoors’ development, which is nearing completion, as well as the Highlands Business Park, which has landed its first tenant in Ficosa. Academy told the UCBJ this week it will begin receiving inventory later this month and will ship to a limited number of stores beginning in March. Ficosa hopes to begin limited production in mid-2016.
TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said last year that Academy’s announcement sped up the timeline for the fifth interchange – it had been discussed for years and was included in the City of Cookeville’s long-range plan in 2000, but hit a few snags. At the time, he had hoped work would start this winter and the interchange would be online before Academy became operational in 2016.
A 2010 addendum to the project’s interchange justification study outlined a total project cost $13.6 million.
The bids are as follows:
- CHARLES BLALOCK & SONS INC. $22,993,169.69
- ROGERS GROUP INC. $23,571,333.36
- JONES BROS. INC. $24,392,396.51
- LOJAC ENTERPRISES INC. $27,958,205.76