Cannon & Cannon representatives Monday gave Loudon City Council an update on the Queener Road widening project.
“We are finalizing construction plans,” Wesley Stokes, a Cannon & Cannon representative, said. “Along with that comes cost estimates, that sort of thing, and we are also working to get the utility certification, permit certification and right-of-way certification. As you guys are aware, Jack’s (Qualls) been working hard over the past year or two to work with 35 different properties to get right-of-way acquired, which is extremely quick to happen within a 12-month timeframe.”
Once ready, Stokes said plans will be to coordinate with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on a construction notice to proceed.
“The utility certification, we’ve been coordinating with all the utilities that are within the area,” Stokes said. “There were five that have utilities along Queener Road. We’ve heard back from four of them as far as the impacts and they will be handled through the plans. With the pipeline that runs through there, we’re still awaiting a response from them, but they are within the allotted timeline for any impacts that they would have on that to return back to us.”
A construction notice to proceed could be obtained in April or May, and a bulldozer could be on site this summer, Stokes said.
Councilman Tim Brewster was upset by how long the project has taken.
“A lot of what they’re talking about are federal things that are required that they have to adhere to,” Jack Qualls, Loudon County Economic Development Agency executive director, said. “It’s not a local issue, it’s a TDOT and a federal issue.”
Paul Beebee, a Cannon & Cannon representative, estimated the project could take 1 1/2 years to two years to complete. He pointed to utilities and weather as factors to consider.
“We’ll be ready hopefully to have notice to proceed by April or May,” Qualls said. “The notice to proceed allows us to bid the project out to go to construction. Once that happens, it’s going to take about 60 to 90 days to get all the documentation that is required by federal and state authorities that have the project, so hopefully we’ll have a bulldozer by the end of summer is what these gentlemen are telling you.”
Qualls said the lengthy completion timeline is due to the road needing to remain open throughout the process.
The project is afforded through an 80-20 match from TDOT, with the local portion 20 percent.
“It started out as a local project and then federal money was found in order to go after 20-80 percent match so you didn’t have to go fund the whole project locally, so it started the clock over,” Qualls said.
Ty Ross, Loudon city manager, said the project has been reported to the state for 18 years as a need.
“It’s a quality project,” Ross said. “It’s something that the citizens, all residents along Queener Road will be very pleased with when it’s complete. Like I said, it’s been in the planning stage for 18 years, but I don’t think it would have happened but for the good work of getting this partnership with TDOT and having it as a local program.”
Councilwoman Tammi Bivens wants Cannon & Cannon to understand the frustration of residents.
“We’ve been in this for 13 months,” Bivens said. “Previous councils have heard dates, said dates, and it’s very frustrating. This comes to us from our citizens and that frustration then comes to you all. I would hope that you would be very good stewards of our time and money and push this through as quickly as we can get it through.
“I understand the red tape of the documentation, going through the grant process, I understand that completely, but I also understand if you miss a deadline you’ve really hurt us on that,” she added.
Brewster apologized to residents wanting an update on the project.
“We’re really working hard on this,” he said. “Just bear with us.”