Lenoir City readies for widened intersection

Stephanie Myers-News-Herald

Lenoir City's Broadway Street will soon be resurfaced and a second turn lane will be added at the Highway 321 and Highway 11 intersection.

City Administrator Dale Hurst announced Monday at the regular Lenoir City Council meeting that the TDOT project will include milling and resurfacing of roadway from the Highway 321 and Highway 11 intersection to Loudon County Memorial Gardens on Highway 11. The project is tentatively scheduled to start July 9.

"They wanted to wait until after July 4 because of the parade and everything and traffic," Hurst said. Construction will be done at night and is scheduled to be no earlier than 7 p.m. and no later than 6 a.m.

Turning left on Highway 11 west onto Highway 321 north will include an additional turn lane and one straight away. The city hopes a widened "signature intersection" will later compliment the long-awaited new Fort Loudoun Dam bridge.

Striping will be reworked and sections of the concrete islands will be clipped to improve the turn. "They have to create a little more room. No way can you create a little more room up there without widening the road," Hurst said.

The city had previously hoped to widen the intersection, but a $7.5 million earmark was frozen in Congress over a year ago, according to Hurst.

"So then we decided, 'Well, something has to be done to improve this'," Amber Scott, Lenoir City human resources director, said.

"Let's get TDOT to do an interim project, about $100,000 worth," Hurst said of the interim intersection improvements. The milling, where the roadway is ground up to seal new material to the old, comes with a pricey tag.

"I believe the bid was $900,000 and some change," Lenoir City Street and Sanitation Department Superintendent J.J. Cox said. But the roadway hasn't been resurfaced in 20-25 years, according to Cox.
"If you get down and look at the road, it's falling apart," Hurst said.

Other construction projects are still in the works, including the Tennessee River Bridge project, which will replace the TVA Fort Loudoun Dam bridge. Bids opened June 15, but it will take several weeks to review, evaluate and award a bid, according to Hurst. If all goes as planned, the project would be completed by May 2015.

With the earmark still frozen on the Highway 321/Highway 11 intersection, Hurst voiced concern with traffic bottlenecks after the new bridge is completed and roadways leading up to the intersection are widened.

"We have an intersection in the next three years - two and a half, three years - that agrees with that project, that functions. I'm not an engineer. That's what my concern is," Hurst told council. "We are making some interim improvements now, but those are just interim improvements."

Other council members voiced similar concerns.

"We're trying to save them several million dollars, but they won't turn it (the $7.5 million earmark) loose," Harry Wampler said.

"This is the busiest intersection in Loudon County," Hurst added.

In other business, council:

● Adopted the Lenoir City annual budget and tax rate. A public hearing opened up the council meeting, but no one came to speak on the matter.

"I'm very pleased we were able to balance the budget during these hard times," Councilman Eddie Simpson, who chaired the budget committee, said.

Lenoir City residents will not see tax increases in the upcoming fiscal year. A property tax is levied at $1.0615 per $100 of assessed value on all real and personal property.

● Adopted Lenoir City School's annual budget, which was heavily influenced by upcoming Common Core standards.

"We are trying to do everything given the money that we have. There are no new requests in there. For the first time, we are seeing revenue from the state kind of decreasing," Superintendent Wayne Miller said, adding the system has also seen declines in student enrollment. "The cuts that we've made has three less teachers in it but those were attrition positions. We didn't have to actually lay anybody off. Services will look the same and programming will look the same."

● Approved Lenoir City Schools' fiscal year 2011-2012 budget amendments.

● Adopted a fiscal year 2012-2013 resolution for federal projects budgets for Lenoir City Schools.

● Approved the first reading of Lenoir City Utilities Board's drought management plan. An updated plan is required by state law.