Gap Creek Road opening delayed
Published 7:26 am Saturday, June 6, 2015
BY ABBY MORRIS-FRYE
AND BOB ROBINSON
The completion deadline for a major highway project years in the making has been pushed back as contractors await additional supplies to complete construction.
Originally scheduled to be completed by the last day of May, the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s project to improve Gap Creek Road — also known as Highway 362 — has been delayed a few months.
“I know they are looking at mid-August to finish that up,” TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi said.
While the road has been paved, the new traffic lanes and shoulders marked and two new traffic signals installed the project is being held up by the safety feature designed to hold vehicles on the road: guardrails.
“We still have some guardrail to install between G Street and Elk Avenue, which will require some lead time due to the fact that they have to be shop-fabricated,” Nagi said. “The lead time required to receive this guardrail will push the completion date to roughly mid-August.”
The rough winter weather in February that saw a series of snowstorms hit the area and led to Gov. Bill Haslam to declare a State of Emergency for the state also affected the project deadline, but only slightly, Nagi said.
“Bad weather can certainly affect the time line for a project,” he said, adding that construction projects typically have provisions built into the schedule to help cover delays due to inclement weather. “The weather pushed it a little bit, but the major factor is waiting on these guardrails.”
A few other odds and ends must be tied up with the project, but no more major construction, Nagi said.
Once the guardrails are installed and the new stretch of road is ready to open, the new traffic signals where Gap Creek Road intersects with West G Street and West Elk Avenue will need to be turned on to direct the flow of traffic.
“We will have to let the signals at both locations flash for seven days before we can turn them on to full operation mode,” Nagi said.
In the TDOT weekly construction update report, the agency notes construction is ongoing for the Gap Creek Road project and asks drivers to be alert for the presence of workers as well as lane shifts and closures in the area.
The Gap Creek Road improvement project began after heavy traffic flow on the roadway raised concerns of safety with the state.
Many motorists used the road as a bypass around the heavier traffic in Elizabethton and the numerous traffic lights along the main roads.
As the amount of traffic increased, so too did the number of motor vehicle accidents on the narrow and curvy roadway according to TDOT.
Planning for the project began more than a decade ago but it took several years for construction to finally begin.