Drivers can expect continued delays on Interstate 75 in Loudon County
as a nearly $2 million maintenance project on the bridge over Watts Bar
Lake forces the closure of one lane in each direction.
The project is slated for completion Oct. 15. According to the
Tennessee Department of Transportation contract on the job, the only
time all lanes must remain open is during the Labor Day holiday.
"Basically, it's been a pretty big mess," said Tennessee Highway
Patrol Lt. Jessie Brooks. "We've had backups of three miles or more at
According to TDOT, about 50,200 vehicles a day pass over the
"If you're going to Florida or the other Southern states, you have to
go that way," Brooks said.
Workers with Jamison Construction LLC on Thursday closed one lane in
each direction. Under the TDOT contract, once the McEwen, Tenn.-based
company closed a lane, workers must continue to work 24 hours a day to
complete the job.
Mark Nagi, TDOT regional spokesman, said TDOT has placed message
boards on either end of the project alerting approaching drivers of the
project and possible delays.
The $1,994.631.50 contract includes repairing the deck, parapet and
expansion joints on each of the two-lane bridges - one span for
northbound traffic and one for southbound travelers.
Jamison Construction was the low bidder on the job. Four other bids
ranged as high as $2,596,324, according to TDOT.
The bridges are between the Loudon interchange at mile 72 and the
Sugar Limb Road interchange at mile 76.
For local southbound drivers trying to avoid the delays, the most
viable alternate route is to get off at either of the two interchanges
north of the bridge and take U.S. Highway 11 through Loudon. According
to the Loudon Police Department, a lot of drivers already know the
"It was bumper to bumper through town on Thursday, sometimes a
half-mile long," said Mike Newman, assistant police chief in Loudon.
In anticipation of continued high-volume traffic, Newman said Loudon
officials on Friday retimed the four traffic lights through town to
provide an extra 20-30 seconds of green for drivers on U.S. 11. "Now it
should be longer greens going through town," Newman said.