After four months of various delays, the Highland Avenue piping replacement project has been completed.

At a Loudon Utilities Board meeting Oct. 28, community infrastructure consultants W.K. Dickson & Co. Inc., informed the board that Highland Avenue’s utility repair project was facing a setback due to gas line placement.

The delay stemmed from gas lines that were not “tied on” at Webster Court. The project, which cost $1.1 million, had a goal to replace water and gas infrastructure and pave patchwork over utility lines beneath the road.

Ryan Blake, W.K. Dickson vice president, said at the Oct. 28 meeting the company planned to make a new tap to extend from Webster Court to Highland Avenue. Though the discovery of "untied" lines put a bump in the plans, Blake believed finding the issue could have prevented future issues with the lines.

“Its purpose was to align resources with (Tennessee Department of Transportation’s) resurfacing program,” Ty Ross, LUB manager, said. “Highland Avenue is a major connector street in Loudon, which makes it eligible for state funding, and it was chosen as part of the local programs offered by TDOT for paving.”

The board found replacing water, sewer and gas lines would prepare for the repaving of Highland Avenue, while also addressing the lines’ age before breaks could occur.  

“It’s a great alignment of resources because ahead of that project, we were able to replace the water, sewer and gas lines that were underneath the road,” Ross said. “… It was just an opportune time to do it ahead of the transportation resurfacing project.”

The project was finished Nov. 15, which was the date projected by Blake at the Oct. 28 meeting.

“The Highland Avenue Water and Gas Replacement project was substantially completed on Nov. 15,” Blake said in an email correspondence. “The contractor is in the process of removing any remaining equipment still stored on site and addressing miscellaneous site cleanup items as needed.”

The initial steps of the next phase of the project, which includes resurfacing Highland Avenue, can get underway. However, certain processes need to take place before Highland Avenue sees any paving.

“That will occur this federal fiscal year,” Ross said. “The repaving will be bid out soon and will likely occur in the spring when the asphalt plants reopen.”

Unlike the piping project, which spanned four months with various delays, Ross expects the repaving process to have a shorter timeline.

“It’s a very short time compared to the pipeline replacement,” he said. “It’s just basically paving over the top of what’s already there alongside some sidewalk improvements, so that will be not much. They’ll come in and we’ll bid it out (to) a paving company, and they’ll be in and out in a matter of days, if not weeks. Certainly, it won’t be a project at the scope or scale of what was recently accomplished in the past four months.”