I-40/75 interchange pay scale, deal struck between Town, TDOT

After two decades of waiting, the Town of Farragut is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel regarding planned improvements to the I-40 interchange with North Campbell Station.

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen, during its Thursday, Jan. 12, meeting, unanimously approved a contract with Tennessee Department of Transportation on the project to reconstruct the interchange.

“I have been looking forward to bringing this item to this Board for more than 20 years,” Town engineer Darryl Smith said. “It’s a long-term goal.

“I don’t want to hear any ‘no’ votes,” he added, drawing laughter. “It doesn’t mean you can’t vote against it; I don’t want to hear it.”

More seriously, “I have been an advocate for a long time for this project,” Smith said. “I worked with the (Transportation Planning Organization) and TDOT officials, and I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with those people — and some elected officials.

“The last few years, (Farragut) Mayor (Ron) Williams has been a very strong advocate for this project and has worked with local, state and federal elected officials, and I think we’re getting some traction now,” the Town engineer added. “Last year, Gov. (Bill) Lee’s state budget included a line item for several projects. This is one of them.”

“There are other things that are probably going on with this,” Williams said. “The plan is to widen the freeway from Lovell Road to the I-40 and I-75 split. That is something that has been on my radar screen for six years.

“It looks like, what Darryl said, it is starting to get traction to go on with what is happening here,” he added.

“I just appreciate all the hard work that has gone in over 20 years,” Alderman Drew Burnett said.

Smith said about a year-and-a-half ago, WSBSA, a consulting firm, was conducting a statewide corridor study along I-40 across the state, looking for deficiencies when TPO, Knox County and Farragut entered into an agreement and asked that the study be extended to the area of the I-40 and I-75 split to the Lovell Road interchange.

“That additional work did result in interchange modifications studies for both Watt Road and Campbell Station Road interchanges,” Smith said. “Since the Watt Road interchange is in Knox County jurisdiction, (the county) will deal with the state with that.

“Campbell Station Road, that’s ours,” he added. “When we met with (TDOT) Commissioner Paul Degges in June, we talked over the expectations they had of the Town.

“The agreement that we have here includes that the state will be paying for all of the costs for the interchange and half the cost to tie in Campbell Station Road on north and south ends. There’s quite a bit of an extension up to the north to tie Campbell Station Road back in (to the interchange), so the Town’s portion — the Town’s participation — on this is $8.75 million.”

As for a payment plan, “It’s to be paid over five fiscal years with this year being $500,000, then over the next four fiscal years, $2,062,500 each year,” Smith said. “All that being said, staff recommends approval of this agreement.”

“When you start talking about money, which is real important to me, that piece of property that’s on the north side, we don’t know the value of that, which would be a deduct from what our portion will be when it comes time to figure the final bills,” Williams said. “There is probably a reduction in that ($8.75 million) cost at some point whenever it does come around.”

“TDOT will be handling the right-of-way acquisition, so I imagine we will ask them for an appraisal of that right-of-way that we’re donating for this,” Smith added.

“So, we hope for that to be a very sizeable amount,” Williams said.

In other business, the Board:

• Re-appointed Keith Alley as its municipal judge. The judgeship is appointed annually. He has been appointed since 2016.

• Approved a professional services contract with LDA Engineering Inc. to study options to extend the Turkey Creek Greenway from its western terminus, 1,850 feet west of Brixworth Boulevard in Brixworth subdivision, to Virtue Road. Cost of the study is $23,000.