KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A long-delayed construction project on I-75, between Caryville and the exit for Huntsville, is in its "closing stages" and should finish this Fall, a TDOT spokesperson said. The department is charging the contractor $1,000 for every day it takes to complete.
The long-awaited construction project has faced multiple delays and a change in contractors since the project began in 2016. It was originally slated to take 2 years to complete.
"It’s miserable," said Jennifer Guin, who drives the section of road twice a week. "I don’t think they’re ever going to get it done. It don’t seem like it anyways."
TDOT Spokesperson Mark Nagi said the department has paid two contractors a total of $35,857,096 for work performed through March 2022. The agency canceled its contract with Potter South in October 2018.
TDOT later awarded Twin K Construction, Inc. a contract to finish the project. The contractor said work should be completed by Fall 2022, Nagi said. Workers have begun a 24/7 shift schedule for paving operations, he said.
TDOT is assessing liquidated damages of $1,000 per day against Twin K Construction for every day beyond the approved contract completion date. Through March, that's added up to $109,000 in fines, Nagi said.
"Remaining work includes completion of paving in the Southbound direction," Nagi said in a statement. "The contractor plans to mobilize to pave two inside lanes in the northbound direction over the next two weeks."
Once that is complete, traffic will be shifted to the inside lanes while the remaining drainage work is completed on the outside section of the road, he said.
"Once all drainage work is complete, paving will commence on the NB outside lane and shoulder," said Nagi. "Guardrail and striping will begin as sections of paving are completed."
"It’s a mess, it’s hard. It’s hard passing all these trucks down through there and the road is so narrow. It’s a problem," said Janice Singleton, who was driving to Oneida on Tuesday.
She said she doubts the construction will finish by the new deadline.
"It's not going to get done anytime soon," she said.