FeatureIn This IssueTransportation

Restoring Roads in Nashville

The I-440 serves as an important route for connecting different parts of the city.

By Sophia Acevedo 

Roads are essential infrastructure in the state of Tennesse, which has over 90,000 miles of roadways. In Nashville, Tenn., the I-440 corridor is an important route that connects West Nashville with the south and east parts of the city and serves as an alternate route for regional travelers that keeps them away from the busier inner loop.

When the I-440 began to show significant deterioration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) readily went to work on the most expensive project that the Department has ever let to contract. 

“The existing concrete road was never designed to carry its current volume of traffic, nor the volume of heavy trucks it was experiencing, and had deteriorated to a substandard condition, and needed full replacement,” TDOT Community Relations Officer Kathryn Schulte said.

We know that since completion of the project, traffic has a much smoother and more comfortable ride through the corridor and anticipate the additional travel lanes and safety features will provide a reliable connector for Nashville for years to come.” – Kathryn Shulte, Tennessee Department of Transportation Community Relations Officer 

Seeking the Right Methods

Work on the $154.8 million project began in March 2019. The TDOT chose Kiewit Infrastrcture South Construction as the builder and Clayton Markham as the engineer of the project.  

“While replacing the damaged concrete with asphalt was the primary feature of the project, TDOT also wanted to address safety issues with the existing elevated grassy median by removing it,” says Shulte. “ There were also several bottlenecks along the corridor that TDOT was able to address by adding third travel lane in each direction.”

According to Shulte, the size, complexity and importance of the corridor required a Design-Build project to allow contractors to incorporate innovate solutions while keeping the costs and impacts to the public at a minimum. In August 2018, a Design-Build contract was awarded, allowing contractors the opportunity to take lead and carry the vision of the project. 

(Photo Credit: Aerial Innovations) The I-440 serves as an important route in the city because it connects West Nashville with the south and east parts of the city.

“The partnership developed between the Department and the contractor that made for efficient resolutions to issues that were encountered and the contractor’s commitment to the project, as demonstrated through their efforts planning, coordinating and executing the work,” says Shulte.

Overcoming Traffic Issues

As expected with many road projects, one of the greatest challenges contractors faced was finding ways to deal with traffic. Contractors needed to keep two travel lanes of the I-440 open during the day and one open overnight. 

One of the main ways contractors minimized the impact of construction on traffic was by using innovative techniques like Rubblize and Overlay, and Recycled Concrete Aggretate. 

According to Shulte, Rubblize and Overlay is a building process that breaks in place concrete pavement to create a solid a base to spread over the asphalt road. Meanwhile, Recycled Concrete Aggretate, which occurs in areas where rubblization is not possible, remove the current pavement, crushes it onsite and reuses it as a base for the new asphalt roadway. 

“Both of these techniques utilized materials already onsite and eliminated the need to haul, dispose of and replace this material, significantly reducing the number of trucks entering and exiting the work zone,” says Shulte. Overall, about 215,000 tons of concrete was recycled for the project.

In addition, contractors had to deal with maintaining live traffic and switching traffic during different phases of the project. The Traffic Control Superviser took on this responsibility and worked to make sure that traffic was safe for both workers and traffic. 

Finishing Before Deadline

Schulte noted that scheduling was another significant issue, as the Tennessee Department of Transportation didn’t want to cause a major disruption to Nashville traffic and wanted to fix the corridor all at once, rather than working in phases. In order to achieve this, the Tennesse Department of Transportation sought special funding which they received through the IMPROVE Act.

The I-440 Reconstruction Project also made improvements to ramps on Hillsboro Road. (Photo Credit: Aerial Innovations)

Construction had their own part to follow through with as well. Crews worked on tight deadlines to make sure that they didn’t end up bumping into each other while working and materials had to be readily available where needed to allow for quick timing.

In all, the project took 450 man hours of work and 300,000 tons of asphalt but it managed to squash any timing dilemmas. Even despite working on the project during COVID-19, the project still managed to be completed a moth ahead of time, in July 2020. 

“In addition to the quality of the finished project, we are very happy with the way all agencies were able to work together to get this project completed a month early,” says Shulte.

The End Product

The I-440 now has a new asphalt road that has replaced old travel lanes and auxiliary lanes  in each direction, providing resident the ease of traveling through a better road that can last for many more years.

Since the project also focused on improving safety of the road, new lighting, new color overhead message baords, new landscaping and ramp safety among a few street exits were a few of the notable safety details that were implemented as well. 

“We know that since completion of the project, traffic has a much smoother and more comfortable ride through the corridor and anticipate the additional travel lanes and safety features will provide a reliable connector for Nashville for years to come,” says Shulte. 

Sophia Acevedo is the assistant editor at American Infrastructure Magazine. She can be reached at sophia@builder.media.