Jackson's Route D ready for motorists

Friday, August 20, 2004

The construction inspired a day-care teacher to start riding her bike to work.

It gave children a reason to walk to the park.

And it gave young students a daily construction lesson that Bob the Builder couldn't touch with a backhoe.

But despite unforeseen benefits of a closed highway in Jackson, residents here, particularly the residents of Jackson's west side and bus drivers, will hail the re-opening of Route D today.

City officials announced Thursday that a wider Independence Street will be open some time around 5 p.m.

City officials and onlookers alike are marveling over the swift completion of the project. The city offered a $2,000 per day incentive, up to $20,000 to get the project done early.

And Fronabarger Concreters of Oak Ridge did just that.

Fronabarger's contract allowed for 28 calendar days to keep the road closed. Fronabarger needed 17 days. The stretch of road near the Farmington intersection has been closed since Aug. 3.

The project did cause traffic problems, especially considering the work coincided with the first week of school and Homecomers, an annual carnival that causes the closure of several uptown streets. The city tried to get the project completed much sooner to avoid the start of school, but officials say the process of acquiring right of way took longer than expected.

The jams weren't as bad as they could've been as the police directed traffic at selected intersections along the detour route.

"With the police getting out to the intersections where we rerouted the buses, that really helped," said Carol Woods, the school district's transportation coordinator. "The police have done an excellent job and my drivers did a good job this week, but we'll be thankful to have it open again."

The street was closed to improve the Farmington Road intersection.

The city could have opted to keep one lane open, but that would have caused the construction to carry on for at least another construction season and, city officials say, wouldn't have been as safe for workers.

The city also saved an estimated $100,000.

Part of the project included lowering a hill to the east of Farmington Road that caused poor sight conditions. Workers removed four feet of the hill.

"I can't believe how much better that line of sight will be," said public works director Rodney Bollinger. "I live in that area and I've got to make that turn no telling how many times per day."

Part of the project includes adding turn lanes at the intersection and rerouting the Farmington Road approaches to make a perpendicular junction.

More to be done

Just because the road is opened that doesn't mean the work is done. Motorists will still not be able to turn from Farmington Road onto Independence Street, which is also known as Route D. The total project is slated for completion some time in October.

Kerri Saylor, the director of Small World Too day care, said the city, school and parents have been very cooperative throughout the project.

The students had to walk to the park to get on the bus.

"The school system was wonderful about that," she said. And city engineer Dan Triller "has been great at letting us know what's going on."

Teacher Janet Davis said she began riding her bike from her home on Greensferry to avoid the traffic.

"But I was always very pleased to see them working when I got here in the morning," she said. "I've never seen anything happen this fast."

Koehler Engineering & Land Surveying Inc. of Cape Girar-deau designed the project, which cost $432,000.



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