The first leg of the much-anticipated Eastern Connector road project was completed right at Thanksgiving in Mt. Juliet.
The $13.5 million project, that has been on the drawing board for years, was finally fast-tracked in part because of a national company's new presence in Mt. Juliet, a new 600-home subdivision planned along its route and to help alleviate traffic congestion on Mt. Juliet Road.
The connector will act as a by-pass and run parallel to North Mt. Juliet Road, on the east side of the city.
According to Deputy Public Works Director Andrew Barlow, the road will eventually connect Beckwith Road at Interstate 40 all the way to Lebanon Road.
"Part of the rush of the first phase of the project is to be able to provide the new FedEx facility access to the road," he said. "That's completed now. We have, in fact, completed all grading and paving up to their site entrance and now it's open to have traffic there."
FedEx will open soon. This first phase of the connector is about 400 feet, Barlow noted. The new and widened roadway begins at Eastgate Boulevard and connects to the Reverse L, just south of Mt. Juliet High School.
"The remaining portion of the project will continue to be under construction until the anticipated completed date of summer 2017," Barlow said.
LoJac was the awarded low bidder for the project. The Stone Farm property along the route is slated for a subdivision called Jackson Hills.
"This project will definitely relieve traffic woes on Mt. Juliet Road, as well as promote growth along the route," Barlow said.
TriStar Summit was just awarded a nod to build a freestanding emergency room at the intersection of Beckwith Road and I-40. CEO Jeff Whitehorn recently said the connector will provide yet another access to the future ER.
Some of the features of the project include a four-lane road with a raised median for all of the new alignment, a bridge over Division Street and the Nashville & Eastern Railroad tracks, as well as bike lanes along the paved shoulders of the road.
"LoJac has currently cleared all the land south of Division where grading operations have begun and should move to the north side of Division in the coming weeks," Barlow noted.
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.