The Tennessee Department of Transportation showed off what's new and what's next Monday for its big-dollar projects in Middle Tennessee.
Road construction can be inconvenient, but it also paves the way for growth. In a tour with staff, lawmakers and local leaders, TDOT highlighted that progress in parts of Wilson and Sumner counties.
"We want to be the kind of department that just doesn't go out and do what we want to do. We want to listen to the communities and be involved in what they want to do," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer.
On State Route 109, TDOT will spend $29 million to replace the bridge over the Cumberland River connecting Lebanon to Gallatin.
The old bridge, built in 1954, was too old and deemed deficient. But the new one incorporates technology to save money, including sealed steel that will not require painting.
"You can see what's involved. This is going to be a new, four-lane bridge. Of course, there's going to be a pedestrian walkway on both sides, so this is pretty incredible for Sumner County and Wilson County," said Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt.
TDOT also showed off its plan for Interstate 40, where crews will expand more than 8 miles in Wilson County from four to eight lanes.
The project takes advantage of a fairly new process called design-build, in which instead of hiring a designer then a builder, the state hires one company to do both.
According to TDOT officials, design-build projects wind up being a big time-saver. On I-40, for example, TDOT expects the process will wind up saving drivers about 10 months of traffic back-ups.
"We have to make sure we do things as effectively and as efficiently as we can," Schroer said.
That may seem like a rarity in state government, but the tour and the transparency seemed to also inspire confidence in a smoother commute ahead.
"When you come out and you see what's going on in our counties and the kind of growth we're having in Middle Tennessee, they understand the needs for proper infrastructure and planning," Holt said.
The tour of TDOT projects continues in other parts of the state throughout the week.
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