KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A multi-million dollar road project in Northwest Knoxville is finally complete.
For months, driving through the intersection of Clinton Highway and Merchant Drive was a headache. Major back-ups, construction sites and a lot of orange cones flooded the area.
“I'm just looking for an easier traffic flow,” said resident Keith Curd.
But now, the major redevelopment project is finally finished. The intersection now includes realigned turning lanes and improved sidewalks for pedestrians.
“It's all working,” Director of Engineering Jim Hagerman said. “It’s all functional. Everything is in place. Everybody wins. Everybody who uses this intersection wins."
But it took a long time to get to this point. Much longer than city leaders like Hagerman expected.
“Well the project started in Spring of 2018 and it was supposed to take nine months or so,” said Hagerman.
Let's back up and look at the timeline.
The City of Knoxville received a notice to proceed with the project in April of 2018. Twin K. Construction was selected as the contractor on the project. It would cost nearly $3.4 million dollars to complete by January 2019.
But instead, the project began to stall due to 'unexpected delays.'
"The final touches won't be until May because there have been some manufacturing issues with the signal poles,” Hagerman siad in January 2019.
Crews seemed to be working less and less in the construction zone, and drivers were left wondering, 'What's the hold up?'
RELATED: Driving You Crazy: What's happening at the intersection of Merchant Drive and Clinton Highway?
"The contractor got involved in other projects. That's really what it amounts to, and work slowed down," Hagerman explained.
Then the city took action, charging the contractor $1,000 per day in liquidated damages until the project was complete. According to city records, the total amount capped at $112,000.
“It was enough to motivate the contractor to get the job done faster,” Hagerman said.
Six months after the original completion date, according to the city, traffic is flowing smoothly and more efficiently than before.
10News asked city leaders if they planned on working with this contractor again.
In response, a statement released to our newsroom reads, "We are exploring the mechanics and legalities of excluding this contractor from bidding on future contracts."
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