By Ben Lawson
Motorists heading into Sevierville along State Route 66 will finally see lanes clear of construction as the Tennessee Department of Transportation moves on to a new phase in their improvement project.
After nearly two and half years, a third lane was opened to traffic between Boyd’s Creek Highway and Nichols Street in Sevierville with only final pavement markings and some sidewalk repair left.
"We are pleased that Phase 1 of this project, which will relieve congestion and improve safety for Tennessee motorists, will be finished by the November 30, 2011 deadline," said TDOT Regional Director Steve Borden.
With the final few days of work set for early this week, TDOT warned drivers of mobile lane closures in both directions as crews work around the clock. The schedule, however, was highly dependent on favorable weather.
“Blalock is in the final stretch and if it will just stop raining they will finish the permanent pavement markings (this) week,” said Jennifer Stone with TDOT contractor AMEC.
The major lane widening was completed just in time for the busy holiday shopping season, much to the relief of area businesses.
“The completion of Phase 1 marks an important milestone for the Improving 66 project,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “This roadway is a vital connector from Interstate 40 to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
The project’s second phase, which will widen Route 66 from I-40 to Douglas Dam Road, is currently underway. According to Bob Stahlke, TDOT public information officer, the next phase is set to be completed by Nov. 30, 2012.
“This week on Phase 2, Blalock continued to make progress on the retaining wall, storm drain installation and water, sewer, gas and electric relocations,” Stone said.
On Dec. 1 and 2 between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., drivers on Douglas Dam Road should be alert for temporary lane closures with flag persons directing traffic at various times.
“Blalock will also continue the five minute stoppages daily as needed from SR-139 to I-40 for movement of equipment and materials in and out of the work zone,” Stone indicated.
Phase 3 of the project, which will connect Douglas Dam Road to Boyd’s Creek Highway, is budgeted for construction in the current Fiscal Year.
Also, according to TDOT’s Mark Nagi, widening of State Route 73 will extend from Buckhorn Road to East of State Route 416 using federal funds.
“This project will help relieve traffic congestion and improve safety for the motoring public,” he said.
The initial stage of the work, in which Route 73 was widened from Glades Road to Buckhorn Road, was completed in 2006.
New Construction Phase
By Ben Lawson