(WBIR - North Knox County) Drive south from Maynardville to Knoxville and you'll know exactly when you cross from Union County into Knox County.
The smooth surface immediately changes to a much rougher road in Knox County as drivers enter "big orange" country. In this case the 'big orange" refers to mile upon mile of big orange barrels that line Maynardville Pike during a nearly $30 million road expansion.
The state contract for the project is $29,986,969.69 to be exact. The prime contractor is Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc. from Sevierville.
TDOT is widening a 6.24 mile stretch of State Route 33 from one lane in each direction to a total of five lanes between State Route 71 and the Union County Line. The five lanes will be two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane. Some portions of Maynardville Pike near Quarry Road will also include a five foot sidewalk.
The transformation from a bumpy bottleneck into five smooth lanes is taking a visible toll on residents along Maynardville Pike. Crews are moving massive amounts of dirt to widen and fill in the hilly road. That dirt has to go somewhere, and in some cases it is piled up in people's front yards.
Mountainous mounds of mud and dirt are piled along the front yard of long-time resident Cline Lindsey.
"I'm not happy about all of this dirt and dust. It's not fun living beside all of this construction," said Lindsey. "I'll be happy when it is done."
Lindsey said he is hopeful the short-term pains will produce long-term gains with less congestion on Maynardville PIke. The project is scheduled to be completed by May 31, 2016.