Snowden: Canton Hollow Road fix not until ’18

Originally an $800,000 project involving about 1,300 total feet of improvements for Canton Hollow and Woody roads near Farragut, which was supposed to be completed this fall, this project suddenly has grown to roughly $7 million adding practically all 1.5 miles of Canton Hollow.

Building up the project to create more bidding interest — the only bidder last April came in more than 25 percent over the original $800,000 — while discovering an urgent need to repair all 1.5 miles of Canton Hollow has delayed the project at least 18 months according to Jim Snowden.

A “preliminary layout” would be exhibited in a public forum projected for “sometime in November … possibly Farragut High School,” Snowden, deputy director of Knox County Engineering & Public Works, said.

With final design approval, additional right-of-way acquisition, utility movement and bid letting all before initial construction could begin, “I’m thinking the earliest people would seen real construction might be early 2018,” Snowden added.

A $1.2 million bid on the original plan “caught everybody by surprise … it was well beyond the realm where we could accept the bid and be reasonable,” Snowden said.

However, while examining “a larger scale planning project in the works. … Low and behold, Canton Hollow Road in its entirety, from Kingston Pike all the way to Fox Road, showed up as the No. 1 road needing improvements based on crashes, severity of crashes, things like that,” Snowden added.

“The accidents we’re seeing are run-off-the-road sideswipes, which indicate the lanes out there aren’t wide enough.”

Current with “9, maybe 10-foot wide lanes at the most” according to Snowden, “we’re going to make them 11 or 12 feet. That’s a detail still up for debate.”

If choosing 11-foot wide lanes, Snowden said total cost would be less than $7 million.

The original plan was to repair roughly 1,000 feet of Canton Hollow, “taking some of the height of the road down 7 feet so the sight distance was better,” Commissioner John Schoonmaker, Fifth District [Farragut area] representative, said.

Those planned changes remain.

“It’s real hilly and curvy. We’re going to be flattening all those out,” Snowden said. “We’re be lessening both the vertical and horizontal grades on the roads to where you don’t have those sharp curves or steep hills.

“… We may stop slightly short of Fox Road down there just because of the railroad,” he added. “Anytime you deal with the railroad it adds a lot of expense.”

A roughly 300-foot stretch of Woody Road repairs are included.

“We were supposed to start construction earlier this year,” Schoonmaker said. “… This is just an opinion: the bid came in over [budget] because they didn’t need the work.

“Plus, if it was going to extend longer than the time frame that was allotted, I think it was six months, they were incorporating funds [reflected in the bid] to pay for not completing the project on time,” Schoonmaker added.

However, Snowden said the lack of bidding on the original project was because “we were just a victim of too much work out there. … [Tennessee Department of Transportation] had let a lot of work at that time” in April. “They had just released Alcoa Highway, [Interstate] 640-Broadway and several other pretty big projects.”

As a result of the failed bid, Schoonmaker said, “We came back to engineering and said, ‘Look, we know we were going to try and do this in steps. Maybe what we need to do is just go take the funds from 2016, throw them into 2017 [budgeted funds] and we’ll do all of Canton Hollow at one time.’

“We just now approved like $1.3 million last night,” Schoonmaker said Tuesday, Aug. 24, about a recent Commission project fund approval.