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Crews pour gravel as part of renovation work to exit 20 at Interstate 75 in Cleveland, Tenn. The improvements to the interchange, which are scheduled to be completed by November 2015, coincide with efforts to develop infrastructure for a proposed industrial park to be located on the east side of the interstate.
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Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland announces his bid to seek re-election in this Jan. 16, 2014, photo.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A state transportation project to build a new APD-40 interchange -- named in honor of Tom Rowland, Cleveland's longest-serving mayor -- is in the works.

The new interchange will provide quick interstate access to the proposed Spring Branch Industrial Park, which will be located on 330 acres just east of Interstate 75's exit 20.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation interchange project recently received an apparent low bid of $22.56 million by Talley Construction Co. of Rossville, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said in an email Monday.

The project calls for the construction of "a full diamond interchange bridge with ramps and auxiliary lanes" for an approximate distance of 1.2 miles between I-75 and South Lee Highway, Flynn said.

TDOT headquarter's construction office has 30 days from bid opening, which was done on Oct. 17, to fully review the bid proposal and determine whether to officially award the contract, Flynn said.

Transportation, environmental, utility and safety officials will hold a preconstruction meeting with the contractor to determine project approach and timeline once the contract has been awarded, she said. The project is supposed to be completed by or before Oct. 31, 2016.

"This is enormous progress on this long-awaited project," said state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, in a news release.

Brooks, along with Sens. Mike Bell, Todd Gardenhire and Mark Norris, sponsored the legislation that named the interchange after Rowland.

"I'm honored and humbled," said Rowland when he first learned of the interchange-naming bill this spring.

The interchange is a "key component" for opening the industrial park and other potential development on the city's south side, he said.

With the recent creation of preliminary design plans, the industrial park project has reached another benchmark in the process, said Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

The next step will involve consultations with local contractors to refine the design, which calls for providing infrastructure such as water, sewer and road access to the site, Berry said.

The cost associated with those assets has been estimated at about $4.25 million, he said.

Final design plans are expected to come before the Industrial Development Board after the first of the year, Berry said.

"Prospective businesses are looking for property that is site ready," he said.

A prior $6 million commitment -- shared equally among Cleveland, Cleveland Utilities and Bradley County -- went toward purchasing the property and conducting environmental studies.

Nearby, a related TDOT project is underway to overhaul exit 20.

The project calls for the construction of a new concrete bridge and involves grading, drainage and paving work, according to transportation officials.

The improvements to exit 20 are projected to be completed by November 2015.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at