The first signs should appear this week of a three-year, $102 million project to rebuild U.S. Highway 27 between Signal Mountain Road and the Olgiati Bridge.
Michael Prince, project manager for Charleston, Tenn.-based Wright Bros. construction, said Thursday that crews will put up traffic warning signs this week along the 1.6-mile stretch of road.
Starting around Jan. 9, workers will restripe the north and southbound lanes and put up concrete barriers along the sides to protect construction crews, Prince said.
That's providing the weather cooperates.
"If it rains, we can't go out there at night and restripe," he said.
Around the same time, the southbound on-ramps at Manning Street and Whitehall Road will be closed permanently.
The northbound off-ramp from Whitehall eventually will close, but the contractor is awaiting word from the Tennessee Department of Transportation on when that will happen, he said.
The project also calls for a complete reconstruction of the interchange at Manufacturers Road. Prince said that most of the early work will involve rebuilding the bridges around Dayton Boulevard and Manning Street, so plans call for keeping Manufacturers Road open "as long as we can."
"We'll try to work with the public and let them use it as long as possible," he said.
The road segment carried an average of 73,000 vehicles per day in 2010, Tennessee Department of Transportation figures show.
Lanes will be narrowed from 12 feet to 11 feet, but two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, he said.
"Anything that impacts traffic will be at night," Prince said.
The project involves widening the highway to three or sometimes four lanes in each direction. In addition to rebuilding the Manufacturers Road interchange and closing the Whitehall and Manning ramps, the Dayton Boulevard exit ramp will be rebuilt slightly north of its present location, and the Signal Mountain Road exit will be widened to two lanes with a left-turn lane at the bottom.
Jennifer Flynn, spokeswoman for TDOT's Region 2 office in Chattanooga, said the project is the most expensive ever in the region. It includes 30 retaining walls and five bridges.
Flynn said TDOT will open an information office on Signal Mountain Road early in 2012 so residents and others can keep up with developments on the massive project.
"We're going to try to get out as much information on the project as possible both beforehand and during the work," Flynn said.
When this segment is complete, TDOT plans call for widening the Olgiati Bridge and rebuilding U.S. 27 through downtown to Interstate 24.