While it’s a much smoother ride on Highway 49 between Pleasant View and Ashland City thanks to a recent resurfacing project coordinated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the real work of widening and improving the heavily traveled section of road – an estimated $52 million project - is not expected to begin for another one to two years, according to state officials.
The work done by Eubank Paving on about five and a half miles from the Sycamore Creek area to Pleasant View cost about $949,000, according to Kathryn Schulte, TDOT Community Relations Officer for Region 3.
The paving was considered necessary because funding for the widening and improvements for the state road are not expected to be available for more than a few months, and because the growth in the area has affected the right-of-way acquisitions in the area, Schulte said.
“Right-of-way acquisition is underway on the project, and it will likely be one to two more years before that work is completed. The growth/development in the area has generated additional ROW/survey work which is why the process is taking longer than expected,” she said.
The project also still needs to be budgeted for construction, so there is not a timeline available just yet. Since the project was not budgeted for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the earliest the project could be let to contract would be December 2021, if included in the future fiscal year 2022-2024 3 Year Plan, Schulte said.
“We’ll find out this spring which projects were tapped for funding in fiscal year 2022,” she said.
The reason behind the paving in the fall was based on TDOT engineers’ analysis of the current road situation: It did not look good, basically. It was something most drivers already knew; the potholes were everywhere.
“When making the decision about whether to go ahead and resurface a roadway even though an improvement project is slated for the relatively near future, TDOT has to consider not only the current shape of the roadway but also that it must hold up during construction. It’s not just a matter of getting the roadway through to the construction contract letting,” Schulte said.
On the upcoming Highway 49 project there is a lot grade and drain work with utility relocations, she added.
“Our engineers estimate the existing roadway will need to support traffic for possibly another two years once the construction work begins, so that’s why the decision was made to go ahead and resurface it. Our TDOT engineers reviewed the roadway this summer and determined the need was urgent - it was questionable whether the roadway would be able to make it through this winter and certainly not two more winters after that,” Schulte said.