(WBIR-Knox County) Engineers called it the biggest, most expensive road project in the history of Knox County; Mayor Burchett is proposing $5 million for 2015 work on building an artery through Northwest Knox County, which when completed, would ring in at a total of over $40 million.
In 2008, crews finished work on phase one of the Ball Camp Drive Project, which has since been renamed the Schaad Road Extension. Officials said the 2-mile stretch of the road, which starts at Oak Ridge Highway, or Western Avenue, co
st $8.8 million.
To finish the connector, which would extend an additional four miles to Middlebrook Pike, joining with Lovell Road, Mayor Burchett proposed a combined $24.8 million for phases two and three.
"When I grew up in the area, it was rural, and few families lived in the Ball Camp area," said Burchett.
"Now it's subdivisions, there's businesses. People just need to be able to get in and out of the area and it's something that's needed."
A combined 16,000 drivers use Ball Camp Pike and Ball Road every day.
"Obviously that's well in excess of what we like to see on a 2-lane road," said Jim Snowden, with Knox County Engineering and Public Works. "We discovered the need 15 years ago, and now we hope to finish the project in the next five years."
Snowden said most of the project would require building a road through county-owned property, with only a half-mile stretch of the road needing to be expanded.
"It's better for traffic to build new, rather than to expand," said Snowden. "Phase two and phase three will actually be more expensive than the phase that's already completed because we need bridges."
Snowden said crews would need to build two bridges due to congestion at railroad crossings.
"We're providing bridges to where you flyover the road instead. And each bridge alone is over a million dollars," said Snowden. "You won't ever be delayed by the train again."
Snowden said phase two will cost $10.3 million to connect Middlebrook Pike to Ball Road on the west end. He said phase three would be the middle link, connecting Ball Road to the Glen Lake Subdivision, where Schaad Road currently ends, at a cost of $14.5 million.
"With TDOT and other projects on the table outside of the county that seem to be on the same time frame as this project, we hope that in five to 10 years, residents in this community could get off I-40 at Lovell and be able to traverse a four-lane, median highway all the way to I-75," explained Snowden.
Burchett said while it's the most expensive road project in the history of Knox County, it's worth the investment.
"The schools are busting at the seams down there so it provides access too for emergency situations," said Burchett. "And it's economic development. That's one of the major drivers when you talk to groups that come in is good infrastructure and we have excellent infrastructure here in Knox County. "
The Mayor's proposed $5 million is part of the Capital Improvement Plan for the fiscal year of 2015, which will be presented along with his budget to the County Commission at the end of the month.