Smart Work Zone implemented on 109

Staff Reports • Updated Apr 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

The Tennessee Department of Transportation launched the first Smart Work Zone in Middle Tennessee this week on the State Route 109 construction project in Wilson County.

The Smart Work Zone includes 11 message boards that provide travel times through the project. The times are calculated in real time through seven radar detection systems throughout the project.

The message boards are placed in Gallatin, on both ends of the project, as well as on U.S. 70 and Interstate 40 to give drivers multiple opportunities to take an alternate route when they see long travel times posted.

The seven-mile portion of State Route 109 serves about 25,000 vehicles a day through the narrow two-lane corridor, including a large number of tractor-trailers. There are few alternate routes once drivers get in the construction zone, so warning motorists in time for them to avoid the area is the goal of the Smart Work Zone, according to TDOT officials.    

Additionally, there are three traffic cameras on the project, which can be viewed by local law enforcement and emergency responders.

State, regional and local officials kicked off the State Route 109 renovation project in early March, marking the start of one of the state’s most important road projects.

The $50 million will bring several upgrades to State Route 109, including additional lanes, shoulders and dedicated turning lanes. The project is expected to be complete in 2020.

The ceremony featured John Schroer, Tennessee Department of Transportation commissioner, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt, Rep. Susan Lynn, Sen. Mark Pody, Rep. Clark Boyd and several other state and local officials. 

“We’ve been working on this a long, long time,” Schroer said at the kickoff event. “The reason why we’re here today and the reason this is such a great project is that we were able to get the IMPROVE Act passed. The IMPROVE Act allowed us to turn this into one project instead of two projects, which meant we could get it done quicker than we could before.”

The State Route 109 project is one of 10 Wilson County road projects funded through the IMPROVE Act, which the legislature passed last year. Upgrades to the road are set from Highway 70 north to Dry Fork Creek area and from north of Dry Fork Creek to the Sumner County line.

Construction started at Academy Road with a new interchange and will go south from the Cumberland River Bridge.

Schroer praised the work of Lynn on the project. Lynn said she’s been a staunch supporter of renovations on the roadway since she took office. 

“It’s been a long time coming, and I thank God for today. We, now, just have to urge everyone please keep driving safely, look out for your neighbor, let someone out, let someone through and have patience,” Lynn said at the construction project’s kickoff event. 

TDOT project supervisor Adam Vance outlined several aspects of the project to residents during a meeting in February, including expected lane shifts, road closures and safety measures, including a 10 mph speed limit reduction during construction.

Vance said traffic control and safety measures would be lifted from 5:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6 p.m., as well as during holidays, special events and holiday weekends.

“Not too many days go by in our office that we don’t get a call at the courthouse about 109,” Hutto said at the kickoff. “For us, it is good for Mayor Holt and Sumner County and Wilson County. It’s good for the economic development that will happen along this road. It’s good for the traffic that will come through here. But, No. 1, it’s good for our citizens and visitors that will travel through here.”

Pressure from State Route 109 travelers and corridors on TDOT to improve the heavily traveled stretch of road has increased in recent years with the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization conducting a series of public workshops starting in 2014 to gather information and address concerns.

The number of vehicles that travel State Route 109 daily is expected to rise to about 44,890 by 2038. The roadway sees about 2,150 vehicles during peak hours, while truck traffic makes up 9 percent of the roadway traffic.

For more information on the $51 million State Route 109 widening project from U.S. 70 to the Cumberland River Bridge, visit tn.gov/tdot/projects/region-3/state-route-109-us-70-to-cumberland-river.html.

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