Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Major projects in works for MJ

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Mt. Juliet -- Although City Engineer/Director of Public Works Marlin Keel is planning to retire the first of May, he’s made plans that will keep the Mt. Juliet Public Works Department pretty busy throughout the spring, summer, and foreseeable future.

In fact, there are two major sewer projects which will each take 12 to 16 months to complete, Keel said.

The South Mt. Juliet Road sewer basin project will improve service for Providence and the area south of it to Central Pike, according to Keel. “The pump serving that area is woefully undersized,” he said.

The drawings for the $4 million project to install a new pump and increase the size of the gravity flow lines and force mains in that area are being reviewed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Keel said.

“We hope to bid it in May or June,” he added. “Construction should start in July or August, with construction lasting 12 to 16 months.”

A similar project is in the works for the north end of Mt. Juliet as well. The pump station located on Lebanon Road at Cedar Creek Road overflows during heavy rainstorms. When this problem was discovered, Keel said, he informed the state and asked the same consultants who planned the south basin project to get plans sent to the state for this one as well.

“Those plans should be sent to the state by the first of next week, the end of March,” Keel added. “We should be able to start construction on that in August or early September.”

Like its counterpart in the south basin, the north-end project will install a new, larger pump and increase the size of the lines serving the North Mt. Juliet area.

The two other large projects both involve transportation. One is the Town Center Trail and the other is the planned Eastern Connector road, which would connect the Beckwith Road I-40 exit to Benders Ferry via the Golden Bear Gateway.

The first section of the trail from the transit station to Fourth Street along West Division has already been completed. The two remaining sections, from Fourth Street to Greenhill Road, have been combined into one project. The design phase for Fourth to Brookstone is already complete and designs for the remaining segment continuing on to Greenhill are almost ready, Keel said.

The next step is a town meeting to hear comments and concerns from the public. That meeting will take place at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 10, at Victory Baptist Church on Tate Lane near West Division Street.

When those issues have been addressed, both sets of plans will be sent to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) for its approval. Finally, sometime in June, the project will be bid, with construction expected to start in August.

The Eastern Connector is a more long-range project. The planned road would be four lanes wide from the Beckwith exit to East Division Street, and five lanes from there to Benders Ferry Road, including the section which will combine with Golden Bear Gateway in front of Mt. Juliet High School.

Currently, Keel said, the city is in the process of buying the right-of-way for the road. “We are ready to close on eight of the 12 parcels of land,” he said. “The other four are all one owner. We’re still negotiating for those.”

He added that TDOT is currently auditing the process being used. But he said the project is scheduled to begin construction in early 2015.

Keel said he plans to retire as of May 1. The city has already chosen engineer Jessica Gore to become Director of Public Works and City Engineer, and Keel said he believes the city plans to hire a deputy director as well.

Gore will be coming on board in early April, Keel said. “I think she will do very well,” he added. “And I’ll be here long enough to help her get up to speed on all of our current projects.”

Reflecting on his decision to retire, Keel said, “It’s time to go. I’m still blessed with good health and have plenty of energy. But it’s time for a change of pace.”

He also said that since his wife is also retiring this spring, he’ll be able to spend more time with her and their family.

Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at


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