By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet is on the list for a new interchange to be built by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The interchange will be built at Central Pike and will help divert traffic off the closest interchange, which is at Mt. Juliet Road.

To get the interchange, city leaders had to petition with the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a group of leaders from counties in and around Davidson County. After consideration of the facts, the NAMPO sent a project recommendation to TDOT to build the interchange.

At its meeting Nov. 26, the Mt. Juliet City Commission voted on a resolution between the city and TDOT to support construction of the new interchange. The state conducts a study to see if the interchange is justified for construction, according to city engineer Andy Barlow.

“Currently the city is helping the project move along by committing funds for engineering and environmental work on the project,” Barlow said. “Projects that have some level of funding currently committed are one of the considerations for project selection by TDOT. There is no way of telling what the total amount will be right now. We have $2 million currently budgeted, but that number is just a guess on the city’s needs for contributions at this point.”

The city currently has 17 total city transportation projects in some stage of development currently, according to Barlow. Five are slated to begin construction in 2019. Six are pure roadway widening and improvement projects.

Among those are the Central Pike interchange and widening, an interchange connector roadway to Central Pike from Providence, Interstate 40 bridge widening, the widening of Highway 70 from Park Glen to Golden Bear Gateway, Golden Bear Gateway widening from Cedar Creek to Lebanon Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road widening and realignment.

All together, the total cost will be about $150 million, Barlow said. The road projects are funded a variety of ways, including taking money from the city’s general fund, state grants, loans and bonds or a mixture of the funding measures, said City manager Kenny Martin.

It will take an average of five years for the interchange to be built, but it could take longer, Martin said. To be considered for an interchange, Martin said the state and federal government have to approve the project.

Martin said the city is keeping up with the growth, “but like all quickly growing cities, we’d like to do even better.”

Barlow said three of the primary roads that are used in the city are state-maintained highways, Mt. Juliet Road, Lebanon Road and Central Pike. 

“The city of Mt. Juliet has had a great history of putting skin in the game for projects on state routes by paying for most or all of the preliminary costs on projects,” he said. “While we don’t technically own the roads, they are all integral to the success of the city. We see the cooperation of working with the state as beneficial to both parties due to timing and costs.

The widening of South Mt. Juliet Road over I-40 “will make a tremendous difference,” Martin said. The current plan for bid letting, or making the project available for companies to bid on the project, will take place in March and will depend on right-of-way acquisitions, Barlow said. He said work should start 60 days later.

“[The city] currently has $2.5 million [in the bank], but this may vary depending on bids,” Barlow said.

The city received just more than $2.3 million in grant money.

In addition to the bridge widening, traffic signals will also be coordinated from Central Pike to Division Street to allow improved traffic to flow, Martin said. The project is funded only by a grant, he said.