The project was awarded to LoJac, Inc. in 2008 at the estimated bid price of $18,555,000. Chambers said right now, they are right at the bid price, and with items added onto the project by the Tennessee Department of Transportation they will probably go over budget.
However, Chambers explained this is nothing out of the ordinary for a project of this magnitude.
“With the unit price contract we install items as directed by TDOT through their plans and specifications. Most projects end up either plus or minus 5 to 7 percent,” he said.
A 3-mile section of the highway from Interstate 40 to Highway 70 is being widened to five lanes. LoJac also used subcontractors to build a bridge over the Nashville-Eastern Railroad tracks.
Chambers said the project has moved forward during the past two years on schedule, except for the harsh weather this past winter. Despite some setbacks, they originally slated July 2011 as the end of the project and will meet their deadline.
“The month of January we were pretty much shut down. There were about three weeks where we couldn’t do much of anything,” he explained.
Snowfall and extreme cold brought construction to a halt that month as Chambers explained pouring asphalt in cold temperatures is nearly impossible. He also said their machinery suffered from the cold, threatening to force back the deadline.
However, despite those delays, when the weather cleared and warmed up, he said they made up lost time through hard work and diligent planning. Chambers said Terry VanNuck, LoJac grading division manager, did a great job scheduling work for the project and keeping everything on that schedule.
“One area that we pride ourselves in is the planning and scheduling,” Chambers noted.In the course of construction, there was a lot that needed to be done to widen the 3-mile strip of Hwy. 109 by 60 feet. Chambers said the Nashville-Eastern Railroad had to build a secondary track so their trains and the Music City Star could avoid the construction.
The City of Lebanon, LaGuardo Utility District and Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation had to move utility lines from their current positions on the shoulders of the highway to a further distance on either side.With so many homes and businesses along the stretch of highway, TDOT had to purchase rights-of-way on private property to allow the road to widen.
In the end, Chambers said they had to work with private property owners on several occasions to have their driveways and business entrances laid out in specific ways, connecting to the wider highway.
At the I-40 and Hwy. 109 interchange, LoJac also installed traffic lights and widened the westbound exit ramp to ease traffic coming off and getting on the interstate.With construction nearing an end, Chambers said they are preparing to put the final coat of asphalt on the road, but the rain earlier this week is keeping the schedule tentative.“We were going to start putting the final layer of asphalt on this week,” he said.
Along with that, there are minor touch-up jobs and things that will obviously crop up when they do a final walk-through. Chambers said once they finish with the asphalt, striping will be all that remains.“You’re basically going down both sides and touching up people’s driveways and things,” he said of the finishing touches.
Chambers said the new lights off the interstate have to flash for a week before you can activate them for safety reasons, to let motorists get used to seeing the lights there and be ready for them.
At the intersection with Hwy. 109 and Leeville Pike, Chambers pointed out they did some median work and paving to resolve some issues there and to make the traffic flow easier.
“All of that will get resurfaced and the striping will be updated to fit with the traffic flow,” he said.
If you’re one of many whose commute to and from work involves driving on Hwy. 109 and through congested traffic, there will soon be two lanes in both directions to relieve the crowded streets.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.