Bids on the interchange modification project on Interstate 75 at Hamilton Place Boulevard has been delayed until fall, but the project, once started, will still overlap with ongoing construction of phase 2 of the modification at Chattanooga's infamous I-75/Interstate 24 split, which started Wednesday.
"The project was moved to the October letting to allow time to obtain the necessary water quality permits, as well as finalizing acquisition of the right-of-way needed to construct the project," Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson Rae Anne Bradley said by email. "The I-75 at I-24 phase 2 and I-75 at Hamilton Place interchange projects will be under construction concurrently. TDOT will work with both contractors to coordinate the traffic control between the two projects."
There is no completion date or timeline yet, but that will be established before bids are opened in October, according to Bradley.
"That will be set prior to the bid advertisement scheduled for Sept. 8," she said.
State bid schedules show Oct. 6 as the date bids will be opened.
TDOT's Interstate 75-Hamilton Place Boulevard interchange improvements in 2022 had an estimated price tag of $59 million, according to TDOT. Officials said the state has not updated the estimated cost to maintain the integrity of the bidding process.
The city of Chattanooga also has a role in the project where the Hamilton Place Boulevard meets the interstate and roads on the mall property, according to city officials. The city's portion will be bid as part of the larger state project, according to Ben Taylor, deputy administrator for transportation for the city of Chattanooga.
"The state and city portions are being bid together," Taylor said Friday in an email, "and construction will be managed by TDOT."
There have been no changes to the city's side of plans and there are no available cost estimates, he said. Plans for that portion include additional travel lanes, turn lanes, sidewalk and vehicle detection cameras for intersection operations. Right-of-way acquisition for that portion of the project will be completed before the project is bid.
Hamilton Place Boulevard is the road that crosses I-75 as an on-ramp to the southbound side of I-75 and also runs the length of the Hamilton Place property parallel to I-75, connecting with the mall's roads and parking lots along the way. The new design will completely change the appearance and traffic flow of the interchange.
A new access to Hamilton Place Boulevard will share an exit with Shallowford Road, according to transportation officials.
The new access from Hamilton Place Boulevard to I-75 north will start from the existing intersection connecting Hamilton Place Boulevard to the Mall Ring Road that links traffic with the parking lot areas, plans show. The new on-ramp will continue across a new bridge over the existing off-ramp from I-75 north to Shallowford Road then underneath Shallowford Road to merge with traffic headed for northbound I-75.
The project scope also includes three bridges, at least nine retaining walls, intelligent transportation system capability, lighting and one noise wall at the north end of the project along I-75 southbound to shield an apartment complex and nearby neighborhoods from traffic noise, according to TDOT documents.
The TDOT SmartWay system — which includes four transportation management centers, 517 cameras, 174 message signs, 1,015 roadway detection systems and 49 video detection systems in Tennessee's four largest cities — is an example of the state's intelligent transportation system included in the project, according to officials. Plans for the Chattanooga project include a system of live cameras, large electronic message boards and traffic speed sensors to monitor and reduce traffic congestion.
Keeping the shopping public and store owners happy is counted among the challenges and issues involved in the project, according to plan documents. Hamilton Place Boulevard and all ramp access to it and Shallowford Road must be maintained between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day throughout the life of the project, documents state. Some of the features in the plan will require temporary closure of the existing on-ramp from Hamilton Place Boulevard to I-75 south.
Hamilton Place mall also will be completing a project on its parking lot and private roads to match the new configuration of Hamilton Place Boulevard, documents state. Work on the Hamilton Place Boulevard project will be coordinated with the larger project.