Downtown Chattanooga Road Construction Project Tops $126 Million; Work Set To Start Soon

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The project for a major reworking of U.S. 27 in downtown Chattanooga and the widening of the Olgiati Bridge will cost over $126 million.

Work is set to begin soon on the two major projects that were awarded to Dement Construction Company, of Jackson, Tn.

TDOT officials projected earlier that the total cost would be $80 million for U.S. 27 and $18 million for the Olgiati widening. A later estimate put the total at above $117 million.

The total bid was $126,323,413.

A joint bid by Wright Brothers and Bell Associates topped $131 million.

The project is set to be completed by July 31, 2019.

Jennifer Flynn of TDOT said, "It is a much-needed project and it will be a great improvement to the U.S. 27 corridor in Chattanooga.  It will widen the road for additional capacity and bring it up to today's design standards, thereby making it much safer."

The 1.4-mile project includes U.S. 27 from I-24 to south of the Olgiati Bridge.  Work was completed earlier this year on the $106 million redo of the hilly section of U.S. 27 between the Olgiati Bridge and Signal Mountain Road.

New frontage roads, multiple walls, and a wider footprint separating downtown Chattanooga from the old Cameron Hill section will be hallmarks of the major reworking of the downtown freeway to straighten it and add traffic lanes.

A section of the side of Cameron Hill will be taken out to eliminate a sharp curve in the southbound lane just past the Olgiati Bridge.

One new frontage road will parallel the freeway on the Cameron Hill side going from Fourth Street, over Sixth Street, past the MLK intersection and then onto the southbound lanes of U.S. 27.

Another new frontage road on the downtown side will go from the MLK Boulevard exit over Sixth Street, and on to Fourth Street and then to an access point on the northbound lane of the freeway near AT&T Field.

It will be a different way to access the freeway for those coming from downtown heading east. There will no longer be a southbound on ramp at Fourth Street. The new access will be to go under the freeway at Fourth Street, then go left on the new frontage road, over Sixth Street, through the MLK intersection, and then merge on the freeway's southbound lanes. 

Traffic coming from downtown will also be able to access U.S. 27 south by way of Seventh Street to Chestnut Street, then left on Sixth Street to the frontage road, TDOT officials said.

Going from the current 4-6 travel lanes to 6-8 travel lanes and straightening out the curve near the Olgiati Bridge will take another chunk out of Cameron Hill. There will be a wall 60 feet high by the new frontage road at the foot of the hill at the Blue Cross Blue Shield complex. 

The project will feature 30 other walls.

Only two businesses were relocated as a result of the project. They are First Title Insurance and Dr. Charles Holt.  Both of these businesses were located side-by-side on Carter Street.

Also, a new lane in each direction will be added on the Olgiati Bridge.  While the bridge widening is a separate project, it will be bid at the same time as the companion widening project.

In anticipation of this work, the necessary bridge supports are already in place.  When TDOT widened the bridge several years ago (a $26.9 million project started in February 1999 and completed in January 2003), the substructure was constructed wider than the superstructure in anticipation of the future widening of the bridge in conjunction with the U.S. 27 corridor improvements.

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