July 7, 2020 10:45 AM, EDT

I-440 Project in Nashville Wraps Ahead of Schedule

I440 map in TennesseeTennessee Department of Transportation

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A major Interstate 440 reconstruction project has been completed ahead of schedule, Tennessee government officials recently announced.

I-440 is a 7.6-mile route that runs along the southern side of Nashville, connecting interstates 40 and 24. The $154.8 million project involved reconstructing the roadway and creating an additional lane, making the route three lanes in each direction in some areas to increase corridor efficiency. Work required deconstructing and reconstructing the entire route, which is highly trafficked.

“It is a through-route through downtown Nashville pretty much,” Steve Sellers, deputy director of state innovative delivery within the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Construction Division, told Transport Topics. “Goods and services travel 440. I’m sure that a lot of freight moves on it.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright joined state and local officials to celebrate the project’s completion July 2, a few weeks ahead of the estimated date. The project, agreed upon through a design-build contract, was meant to take 708 calendar days, with an estimated end date of July 24. The design-build method combines various steps, including design, permit approvals, utility relocation and construction, into a single contract to expedite project delivery.

Major construction on the project began in March 2019, Sellers said. Work on building new noise walls started earlier, in the fall of 2018. Sellers explained the contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure South Co., faced some serious incentives to finish work on time. The liquidated damages were $100,000 per day for the first 30 days and $400,000 per day each day thereafter.

The contractor maintained a tight schedule to ensure its team was working on I-440 pretty much every day of the week, according to Sellers. However, he noted that reduced traffic during the coronavirus pandemic presented a benefit in terms of road crew safety.

“The ultimate goal with the reduced amount of traffic was the safety of those workers that were out there working,” Sellers said. “That was really where we saw the benefit of the reduced traffic.”

The I-440 reconstruction was long overdue, as the concrete had reached the end of its useful life. Sellers said the route was designed to accommodate 40,000 vehicles per day and currently carries about 100,000 a day.

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Besides creating a fresh road surface, the project involved upgrading lighting and guardrails along the route and performing rockfall mitigation and landscaping. Some 295 trees and 2,623 shrubs were planted.

The I-440 project was one of 962 critical transportation projects included in the Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy Act of 2017, also known as the IMPROVE Act. The legislation called for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts to deliver road and bridge projects across the state’s 95 counties.

“The I-440 reconstruction project is not only the largest in TDOT’s history, but also one of the most challenging to construct,” Bright said. “I want to commend the entire project team for their hard work and dedication to meeting the aggressive completion date. I also want to thank the public for their patience during the construction process.”

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