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A worker drives a steamroller over newly laid asphalt on U.S. Highway 27 north of the Olgiati Bridge as construction continues Thursday.

Workers are paving U.S. Highway 27 near the Manufacturers Road ramps just north of the Tennessee River, getting ready for the ramps to open in September.

Traffic will shift to new lanes and the Manufacturers Road ramps are scheduled to open then, said Jennifer Flynn, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

"It's not complete yet, but we're on the downhill side of the project," said Flynn.

She said evening commuters also need to know about continuing work to replace the exit-ramp bridge over Dayton Boulevard. The contractor will begin setting very large bridge beams over Dayton Boulevard at 7 p.m. Monday and continuing through 6 a.m. Tuesday, weather permitting.

During this work, this portion of Dayton Boulevard will be closed to traffic. Detours will be posted.

Chattanooga resident David Collins said he's been avoiding U.S. 27 near Dayton Boulevard and Manufacturers Road since construction started, but he may try it again after the ramp opens this fall.

"I don't want to set eyes on it until it's done," he said.

Instead of getting on U.S. 27 to go from his home near Red Bank to visit family members in St. Elmo, Collins takes a longer route.

Not having the Manufacturers Road ramp open causes too much traffic using Dayton Boulevard to get onto U.S. 27, Collins said.

The project is only 1.62 miles, but the project cost $105.8 million, making it the second most expensive road project in the state. It's slightly less than the $109 million spent on an Interstate 40 interchange project in Memphis, said Flynn.

The initial project was budgeted at $102 million but increased after TDOT officials learned more retaining walls needed to be added to the project. TDOT built more than 30 retaining walls to stabilize the steep slopes near U.S. 27.

All U.S. 27 work is scheduled for completion in February, Flynn said. The road widening project begins at Manufacturers Road and goes to Signal Mountain Road.

The project also includes the construction of six new bridges. The bridges over Manufacturers Road, Manning Street, the Southern Railroad, Dayton Boulevard and Signal Mountain Road are reconstructed to be wider and safer than the structures that they replace, according to TDOT.

The portion of U.S. 27 was constructed in the 1960s to carry about 30,000 cars a day, said Flynn. When construction started in December 2011 the road carried 73,000 cars per day.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 757-6431.