The project to widen Shallowford Road is moving forward with the city's recent release of $620,000 to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for the project.
TDOT has already been using some of the remaining 80 percent from the Federal Highway Administration to begin buying right of way in anticipation of the late-summer or early-fall start date.
"Usually a project like this will take two years to complete," said TDOT community relations officer Jennifer Flynn. "We will do the best we can to keep traffic flowing freely during construction, but because of the heavy volume of traffic in the area coupled with the complex widening project, there may be times that traffic is affected. The contractor will likely strive to do any work requiring lane closures or reductions during non-peak hours."
The project will turn Shallowford into a five-lane road with a continuous turn lane from Gunbarrel to Jenkins roads, but portions will only have three lanes. Flynn said that design was requested by the city.
"Originally the plans called for a five-lane section from Gunbarrel to Jenkins and at the public hearing back 10 years, plus or minus, the community opposed the five-lane," explained city assistant engineer Dennis Malone. "So the plans were changed to address these concerns."
The five-lane section will go from Gunbarrel Road to past the signal at Ogletree Avenue, where it will taper down into three lanes. Shortly past the Drake Forest subdivision entrance, a five-lane will again take over until Jenkins Road, where the city will soon construct a roundabout.
Flynn said the center turn lane the entire length of the mile-plus long project should help traffic flow in the area. The new roundabout should also help with navigability, said Malone.
Construction for the roundabout, which has been delayed several years due to the economy, is expected to begin Aug. 1, according to Malone. Eminent domain proceedings are in effect for the remaining piece of property needed for right of way.
"The city plans to build the project under traffic, meaning that Shallowford Road west and Jenkins Road north will remain open during the construction," Malone said. "The contract is for 195 days. However, the city built in an acceleration clause that could shorten the project to 150 days while allowing for a complete closure of the intersection for a week after about 75 days into the contract, which is approximately the same time that TDOT will be getting started [on widening Shallowford]."
In the meantime, motorists will notice disruptions as utilities and sewers are moved in preparation.
"This work will require full closures of Shallowford Road due to the need to lower the existing sanitary lines in place due to the existence of rock," Malone warned.