TDOT kicks off I-640 reconstruction project

Nick Della VolpeEast Knox

TDOT Region 1 engineers hosted a media event July 1 to kick off the I-640 reconstruction project that will take place over the next 17 months. The 7-mile interstate project section runs from the I-275 intersection on its western edge, eastward to where I-640 merges into I-40. It’s a busy road. I-640 moves 90,000 cars per day.

The Rogers Group Inc. was awarded TDOT’s $21.2 million contract for this work in April 2021. Construction work begins on July 5. The project will create some 50 jobs.

The Work: The project has two main parts.

The far western section between the I-275/I-75 interchange to the Broadway interchange is primarily a typical repaving/ resurfacing project. The contractor will mill or grind up and remove the top layer of asphalt and replace it with a smooth 4-inch-thick finish surface. This work will likely be done next spring.

This equipment will be used by subcontractor Antigo to rubblize the existing roadway

The remaining section of I-640, from Broadway east to I-40, will involve more extensive reconstruction. It involves rubblizing, or breaking up the existing roadway surface, specifically the original underlying concrete road surface, built in the 1970s, which is cracking and failing over an unstable base. You’ve probably bounced and jounced over those resulting separation cracks and potholes?

The rubblizing work will be done by Rogers specialty subcontractor, Antigo, and the resulting broken pieces of rock will be bound together with liquid asphalt to form a stable base for the repaving phase. During the work, the road will be reduced to two, shifting travel lanes, and the speed limit on I-640 will be marked down to 55 mph.

TDOT’s advice: Slow down; be vigilant. You are corralled in a fast-moving 2-lane construction zone. Signs will reflect potential delays and travel time. Be patient, safety comes first.

For planning, use TDOT SmartWay :Know before You Go.: It provides up-to-date info for travelers on current road conditions.

Following the completion of that rubblization phase, the Roger’s team will repave the roadway with two layers of asphalt, a coarse 4-inch :binder: asphalt layer and then a 3-inch :finish: or smooth surface layer.

Timetable. The Roger’s group will begin work on July 5, 2022. Overall completion is slated for November 2023.

Rubblization and the binding layer are to be completed by year’s end. All lanes will then be open to traffic. Finish surface paving will occur in the spring/summer of 2023. TDOT Region 1 engineer Steve Borden says the reconstructed roadway surface, while quite expensive, should have much longer service life, hopefully another 40 years instead of patch-paving cracks every four or five years.

To follow ongoing progress, see TDOT’s website.

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


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