State and local officials celebrated the beginning of a long-awaited road widening project in Roane County on Wednesday.

TDOT plans to widen Highway 27 from two lanes to five from the intersection at Ruritan Road to South Roane Street.

The project covers almost a mile and will cost about $9.6 million. It will help relieve traffic issues going in and out of Harriman from Interstate 40.

The project has been in the works for several years and now it's fully funded and ready to move forward.

"Projects take a long time to develop. Not only do we have environmental issues, but we have funding issues. And so projects, even well qualified projects, they have to kind of get in a queue and then we have to get enough money to build them," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer.

Construction is expected to begin late next month. It's scheduled to be finished by May 2016.