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Charles Blalock & Sons Work On TDOT Project

Thu June 06, 2024 - Southeast Edition #12
Lori Tobias – CEG Correspondent


The widening project of SR 133 (Maynardville Highway) will run from the Knox County Line to just south of SR144 in Maynardville.
Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT
The widening project of SR 133 (Maynardville Highway) will run from the Knox County Line to just south of SR144 in Maynardville.
The widening project of SR 133 (Maynardville Highway) will run from the Knox County Line to just south of SR144 in Maynardville.   (Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT) A stretch of Tennessee highway — in a place perhaps best known for the famous country musicians born there — is currently undergoing a $51 million construction project to widen the highway over a span of 5.34 mi.   (Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT) Charles Blalock and Sons Inc., headquartered in Sevierville, Tenn., was awarded the bid for $50,280,578.07 in February 2022.   (Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT) Work began in early April 2022 and is scheduled for completion by Oct. 31, 2026.   (Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT) Proposed improvements to SR 33 were first initiated nearly three decades ago.   (Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT)

A stretch of Tennessee highway — in a place perhaps best known for the famous country musicians born there — is currently undergoing a $51 million construction project to widen the highway over a span of 5.34 mi. The widening project of SR 133 (Maynardville Highway) will run from the Knox County Line to just south of SR144 in Maynardville.

Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT

SR 33 serves as a critical connection route from Knoxville through Maynardville, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).

"The purpose of widening SR 33 is to create a safer and more efficient route by improving traffic flow and increasing the roadway's capacity. In its current configuration, SR 33 approaching Union County from Knoxville reduces from five lanes to two lanes until entering Maynardville. After this project is complete, the whole route from the Knox/Union County line to Maynardville will consist of four travel lanes with a center turn lane," TDOT said.

Proposed improvements to SR 33 were first initiated nearly three decades ago. That proposal came in 1998 in response to concerns raised about transportation needs by the Knoxville Metropolitan Planning Organization. TDOT's suggested improvements were intended to address congestion; correct operational and geometric deficiencies; and support future economic development activities in and around the study area. The proposed improvements along SR 33 included the reconstruction and widening of approximately 16 mi. of a primarily two-lane roadway in Knox and Union counties from north of SR 71 in Knox County to SR 61 in Maynardville. The overall improvements were broken up into three projects. The SR 33 project is the third of the three projects.

As designed, the 5.34-mi.-long project will include 5.08 mi. of widening from the Knox County line tying into the existing pavement south of SR 144. The alignment will feature four 12-ft. travel lanes, two in each direction, with a 12-ft. center turn lane and 10-ft. shoulders, which will extend across the length of the project. The proposed project includes the construction of one 200-ft. I-beam bridge over Bull Run Creek, as well as the construction of a box bridge and the installation of multiple roadway signs and pavement markings, according to TDOT.

Charles Blalock and Sons Inc., headquartered in Sevierville, Tenn., was awarded the bid for $50,280,578.07 in February 2022. Work began in early April 2022 and is scheduled for completion by Oct. 31, 2026.

The town of Maynardville, population just shy of 2,300 and the county seat of Union County, may be familiar to country music fans as the birthplace of Carl Smith and Roy Acuff. Chet Akins, Lois Johnson and Kenny Chesney were born in Union County. Maynardville also is mentioned in the theme song from the movie Thunder Road.

Photo courtesy of Tennessee DOT

Civic pride was evident at the start of the SR 33 project when local and state officials turned out to "turn some dirt," calling it a "landmark day" in Union County.

Steve Borden, Region 1 director, and representing Tennessee Commissioner of Transportation Joe Galbato III, noted the widened corridor will help traffic flow and will boost economic development.

Union County Mayor Jason Bailey said the project is not just the widening of the road but "also the widening of opportunity. The road will be a safer and smoother ride to jobs for commuters in Union County and Claiborne County. The road will be an opportunity for economic development. People will want to follow SR 33 to Union County for low taxes, for access to broadband, for recreation and for affordable housing."

To date, Blalock & Sons have completed the left side of the box culvert at Raccoon Valley and the pavement at bridge ends for Phase 1. Currently, Comcast is working on sections 3 and 2 of the project, and 18-in. storm pipe and a catch basin are being installed near Raceway Drive. Sewer and water facilities continued to be installed. CEG


Lori Tobias

Lori Tobias is a journalist of more years than she cares to count, most recently as a staff writer for The Oregonian and previously as a columnist and features writer for the Rocky Mountain News. She is the author of the memoir, Storm Beat - A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast, and the novel Wander, winner of the Nancy Pearl Literary Award in 2017. She has freelanced for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Denver Post, Alaska Airlines in-flight, Natural Home, Spotlight Germany, Vegetarian Times and the Miami Herald. She is an avid reader, enjoys kayaking, traveling and exploring the Oregon Coast where she lives with her husband Chan and rescue pups, Luna and Monkey.


Read more from Lori Tobias here.





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