I-640 East repaving contract approved

Nick Della VolpeEast Knox, Our Town Neighbors

Just as the wheels and shocks have been bouncing off your car, TDOT has finally approved a contract to repave, indeed rebuild, the rough eastern 7-mile segment of I-640, from I-75 east to the junction with I-40.

The $21.2 million contract has suffered some two years of delay based on problems obtaining agreement with the railroad rights it crossed over and lost/or misplaced TDOT easement records dating back to the 1970s.

Let ’er rip! Or at least ease forward over the next 18 months of reconstruction.

This 7-mile east section of I-640 is different than the roughly 4-mile west segment, repaved in 2020-21.

It’s not just asphalt resurfacing. The underlying concrete base is defective, due to weak foundation soils and inadequate surface prep, that allows subsurface shifts. The subsurface panels move with weight and moisture, opening up potholes and a rough surface.

So, the eastern segment requires removing the existing asphalt, rubblizing or busting up the underlying concrete pavement, and rebuilding new roadway base and asphalt pavement section.

As explained by Steve Borden, TDOT’s eastern section chief, “this will eliminate the reflective cracking caused by the underlying concrete paving panels, many of which have further deteriorated into potholes.”

Get it? No foundation, no road. It is hoped this engineering fix will provide more reliable road conditions when completed.

Work is anticipated to start this summer. A notice to proceed work still awaits details to be ironed out at a proposed pre-construction conference. There will be some traffic disruption, but TDOT is committed to keeping two lanes of traffic open in either direction during construction. Of course, there may also be temporary lane closures.

Construction site for new Dunkin’.

Dunkin’ coming to Asheville Highway

It’s happening!

When Smoky Mountain Guns and Ammo started building out space in a former Food Lion building on Asheville Highway, it was only a matter of time before other businesses would take notice of the opportunity there. It’s an underserved area ripe for business development.

RTC Construction is building a Dunkin’ Donuts on the nearby vacant corner lot, just opposite the intersection with John Sevier Hwy along Asheville Hwy. The familiar coffee and baked goodies shop is projected to open in late July.

Nearly 40,000 cars a day use this road. And several bedroom communities are located close by. A steady flow of commuters daily head to the entrance of heavily-traveled I-40 to reach their workplace or shopping destination, and they commute home.

The intersection currently hosts fuel, fast-food shops and auto supply stores. Who will be next?

Hint: If you build it, we will come. …

Stadium-related utility work to begin in May

From the city: The first round of work related to construction of an $80 million publicly-owned multi-use stadium just east of the Old City will begin in May. Anticipate closures on parts of three streets to accommodate the initial utility upgrade work.

Starting on May 2, contractor crews will begin a project to relocate water and sanitary sewer lines, and these streets will be closed:

  • Jackson Avenue, between Patton and Florida streets
  • Willow Avenue, between Patton and Kentucky streets
  • Georgia Street, south of Willow Avenue

The stadium – supported by a $13.5 million state economic development grant and a roughly $1 million annual lease paid by the Tennessee Smokies – is scheduled to open in time for the 2025 baseball season, though the stadium may possibly be ready in 2024 to host concerts, festivals or other public events. Info here or here.

Nick Della Volpe is a lawyer, a gardener and a former member of Knoxville City Council.

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