Shallowford Road completion now set for November

Shallowford Road completion now set for November

September 12th, 2013 by Judy Walton in Local Regional News

Work continues on Shallowford Road. Officials now say work will be done around Thanksgiving.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

Oops.

That Sept. 30 date to finish widening Shallowford Road between Gunbarrel and Jenkins roads?

It's been reset to Thanksgiving.

But state transportation officials insist they're not the turkeys in this case.

The delay is "because of several things that were beyond the control of both TDOT and the contractor," Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said Wednesday.

Those range from complications in the relocation of a Tennessee American Water Co. water line to the city taking too long to move sewer lines to nearly 65 inches of rain on the site so far this year, Flynn said.

The good news, if it helps, is that traffic is going to be switched to the new side of the road in the middle of next week so crews can start refurbishing the existing lanes.

Flynn and TDOT project engineer Ken Pruett said they sympathize with frustrated drivers upset that the project is a year overdue.

"We've tried to deal with as many complaints as we could. But we have to build a road and there's going to be some discomfort," Pruett said.

He counted off complications:

• A fire service line and fire box at a retirement home across from the YMCA needed to be lowered on the road right of way. Pruett said that 18 months ago, "we were told by the property owner that all the work had been done. ... When we get out there and started digging, we ran right into their line." He said the contractor had moved the fire box but not the water line. That took 47 days to fix.

• Chattanooga lowered its main sewer line, but didn't change the tie-ins to the service lines to homes and businesses, which were about a foot higher.

"All those services were in the way. They had to lower them all the way across the roadway -- why they didn't do it that way in the first place, I don't know."

• The same thing happened with a gas line -- the line itself was moved but not the service lines. Fixing that took two days.

"I've told them we're not happy with them, they're messing us up," Pruett said. "But we have no recourse."

• A Tennessee American water line to Grace Academy and meter needed to be moved. Pruett said the water company moved the meter but didn't lower the line. Fixing it took three weeks.

However, Tennessee American operations manager Kevin Rogers said TDOT bore some fault there.

"We lowered the line and relocated our main last year by the plans as they were at the time," Rogers said. "It's my understanding the depth of that relocation changed after we did the line. We did our work based on our specifications at the time. They came back later and said, no, it needed to be deeper."

There was more excavation than planned for and additional erosion control needed. Those delays had ripple effects, forcing rescheduling of various projects.

And then there was the rain. The contractor measured 64.61 inches from Jan. 1-Aug. 30.

Altogether, the project is now is 110 days behind schedule, according to TDOT.

Pruett said drivers may not be distinguishing between TDOT's project and some work by Chattanooga, such as roundabouts, that goes back three years.

"For them it's just been one long project," he said.

When it's finally done, drivers will have two traffic lanes each way plus a center turn lane, bike lanes and curbs and gutters to help ease flooding on the road from runoff in heavy rains.

"It'll be a really good facility if they'll just bear with us a little longer," Flynn said.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416.