JASPER, Tenn. - As the new Marion County Regional Institute of Technical Excellence prepares to open its first building this fall, state officials are preparing to construct a new turning lane for it along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball, Tenn.
County Mayor John Graham said the county is "getting close" to utilizing the first building on the new campus, but before it's opened, a turning lane must be installed to help with traffic along the busy two-lane road.
He said Tennessee Department of Transportation officials discovered a small problem while doing some preliminary work on the site recently.
"They are not sure, but they believe once they start putting equipment down there, they may need to encroach slightly on our property," Graham said.
County Attorney Billy Gouger said TDOT is not asking for a deed to the property nor for an easement.
"All they want is permission from the county to use this property while in the construction process," he said.
The county still will own the property after the turn lane is installed, said Gouger.
Graham said the potential infringement on county property will be only "somewhere in the neighborhood" of 3 to 5 feet.
Even though he could have approved TDOT's request, Graham said he thought the Marion County Commission should continue to be "part of the process," so he recommended the board vote to allow state workers to use a small portion of the campus property, if needed.
The board voted unanimously last week to do so.
Graham said TDOT is installing the turning lane out of its own funds.
"It's no cost to us on that, so I felt like we could do that little bit so we could kind of help the project along," he said.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.