Progress continues on plans to upgrade South Concord Road from a two-lane bottleneck to a multi-lane more efficient road.
Issues with utilities, including First Utility District sewer and drinking water pipes and fiber optic lines from TDS Telecom and U.S. Cellular are still in the planning stages.
Plans call for widening the currently two-lane Concord Road to five lanes with a turn lane in the center from Turkey Creek Road to the Northshore roundabout.
A greenway is planned run to the road’s west side while a 5-foot sidewalk will be to the road’s east. Four-foot bike lanes will run in both directions.
TDOT will replace an overpass over a railroad with a new four-lane overpass. A ramp may be added near the roundabout. The ramp would take drivers directly from Southbound Concord Road to Westbound Northshore. TDOT also plans on adding a turn lane from Southbound Concord Road to Westbound Turkey Creek Road.
According to Town engineer Darryl Smith, the most heavily impacted utilities by the new plans will be TDS Telecom, First Utility District and U.S. Cellular, although Lenoir City Utilities Board lines also would be affected.
“There have been some delays in the design due to the severe impact on utilities in the area, but the TDOT designers have been able to limit those impacts as much as possible. This is a normal part of the design process,” Smith said.
Smith said that where possible, the expanded road would avoid requiring cables be moved.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t all fit and lines have to be moved out of the way,” Smith said.
According to Mark Nagi, TDOT community relations officer, all of the utilities submitted preliminary plans by Jan. 19.
“As utility coordination is currently ongoing, the affected utilities have not completed their final utility relocation plans,” Nagi said.
FUD got the notice last September. According to Bruce Giles, general manager of FUD, and Edwin Deyton, FUD staff engineer, the estimated cost for the changes will be $2.7 million funded by FUD. Deyton said utility services would be paying for their own changes and that FUD was following a standard procedure with TDOT, one that had not been disrupted by any difficulties.
“We’re following that course,” Deyton said, in terms of timing and submittal of plans.
However, he said he saw some challenges in moving the lines.
“It’s going to be a difficult, expensive project,” he said. “We take care in relocating any of the lines so we don’t disrupt the water and sewer supply to our customers.”
Bruce Mottern, TDS manager for state governmental affairs in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, provided a current estimate of more than $1 million for moving TDS’s lines and once underway will take around 9-12 months. However, he said that the improvements will be worth the effort.
“First and foremost, once the project is finished, the TDS customers in this area will notice faster, more reliable Internet service as a result of the fiber optics that will be placed,” he said.
Right now, according to Nagi, TDOT is currently in the right of way phase with the Concord Road improvements. It is beginning property appraisals. All phases of the project will cost $20.5 million. The federal Surface Transportation Program will provide 80 percent of the funds through Knoxville Regional Trans-portation Planning Organization with 20 percent of funds coming from TDOT.
Smith said that because Concord Road is a state route, TDOT is managing all phases of the Concord Road improvements.
“The Town has had a limited role on this particular project, though TDOT has been terrific in allowing us to provide input,” he said.