September 3, 2021 12:45 PM, EDT

Tennessee DOT Awards Largest Contract in Its History for I-65 Project

$160 Million Will Go Toward 9.6 Miles of Major North-South Artery
Traffic in TennesseeWork on Interstate 65 is expected to be completed by December 2025. (Tennessee Department of Transportation)

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The Tennessee Department of Transportation has awarded a $160 million contract to widen Interstate 65, a key north-south route, the agency announced Sept. 2.

Extending about 122 miles through the heart of Tennessee, I-65 links Alabama and Kentucky and passes through Nashville. Specifically, the project will cover the span of I-65 that runs between state routes 25 and 109 in Robertson County, which lies in north-central Tennessee and borders Kentucky. The scope of the project is 9.6 miles.

An effort to boost capacity and operations on I-65, the project will include improvements for freight haulers. Elements of the project include converting the northbound weigh station into truck parking capacity and adding one travel lane in each direction.

Clay Bright


“I-65 is a major north-to-south corridor serving many communities,” TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright said. “This work will address congestion, improve safety and traffic operations, and accommodate current and future traffic demands.”

Additionally, the project will replace and widen 10 bridges and install Intelligent Transportation System facilities throughout the corridor. Four overpasses also will be replaced.

According to TDOT’s Interstate 65 Multimodal Corridor Study, there are no dedicated TDOT truck parking lots along I-65. Lack of available truck parking is a pressing issue for the industry, ranking No. 3 on the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top Industry Issues report.


TDOT_I65_FinalReport by Transport Topics

Communities along the I-65 corridor are expected to grow in the coming years, presenting capacity considerations for the transportation system. Counties in the study area are expected to add about 1.2 million people and 830,000 jobs before 2040.

Truck volumes are projected to increase by more than 50% on most of the roadway network by 2040. Inbound freight moving by truck in the study area logged 46.9 million tons in 2012, a figure that is expected to increase to 101.9 million tons by 2040. The study records a base level of 16,204 truck vehicles hours of delay along the I-65 corridor in 2010. By 2040, that trend is projected to grow to 27,147 truck vehicle hours of delay.

I-65 plays an important role in connectivity for freight moving beyond Tennessee’s borders. The study indicates average annual daily traffic counts along I-65 range from 18,460 vehicles per day near Tennessee’s border with Alabama to 172,400 vehicles per day near Nashville.

For the year 2040, the study lists top inbound commodities moved by truck as animal feeds, sands and nonmetallic minerals.


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TDOT awarded the I-65 widening project contract to Jones Bros., LLC. At $160 million, the contract represents the largest in TDOT history, surpassing the $152 million contract that supported the I-440 reconstruction project in Nashville.

Construction is expected to begin this month and scheduled to be completed by December 2025. Financial incentives are in place to finish early and penalties for any delays.

TDOT plans to have temporary lane closures and “rolling roadblocks” at night or on weekends to avoid busy travel times. The agency will release more information about the construction schedule in the coming weeks.

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