By Jim Bridges
During the many trips I made between Lake Tansi Village and Crossville, while work was in progress on the Lantana Road project, I saw and experienced the same things as everyone else. Those who know me well are aware that my brain doesn’t process information like – well, I might as well say it – like normal people. In other words, I was thinking beyond what was going on, beyond what I saw. But let’s go back to the beginning, before any work began and look at some interesting “behind the scenes” facts.
Did you ever wonder whose idea it was? The nominees are Cumberland County, the City of Crossville, a state representative or a state senator. May I have the envelope, please? The request for a study to determine the feasibility of widening SR-101 (Lantana Road) from south of SR-282 (Dunbar Road) to SR-1 (US 70) in Crossville was performed at the request of the City of Crossville. (SR stands for state route.) Minutes from a city commission meeting in July 1965 include information about a plan by TDOT to widen, resurface, curb and drain Lantana Road. It has long been discussed how long it took for the project to come to fruition. A local resident worked for VEC while attending college, in the late 1960’s – early 70’s era, and the utility was relocating poles for the project. The Advanced Planning Report was completed in April 1996. The reason the City of Crossville made the request was because a majority of the new Lantana Road would be inside the city limits. As a matter of information, Lantana Road, from the Miller Avenue intersection to the Ace Hardware Store, is now within the Crossville city limits.
There were about 10 revisions before work began. The most unusual revision was reclamation of an area that used to be a wetland. There were three design changes while it was under construction. The first thing that was done besides surveying was environmental studies. This was followed by purchasing right-of-way.
As for the location of the entirely new section, it would seem that a level area would have been the top priority. However, “cut and fill,” a term that has been associated with road construction for close to 100 years, had a bearing on the location. In earthmoving, as it pertains to constructing a road, a railway or a canal, cut and fill is the process whereby the amount of material from cuts roughly matches the amount of fill needed to make nearby embankments, minimizing the amount of construction labor. This practice was first performed in Ireland in residential developments being built for soldiers returning home at the end of World War I. Railways were next to use the process, followed by road construction. On the Lantana Road project, the deepest cut was approximately 15 feet, while the deepest fill was approximately 20 feet. It all depends on the topography. Affecting this project was the fact that a new section would tie into an existing section. The new section of the multi-lane road runs from Miller Avenue to just past the Congregational Church where it ties in with the existing Lantana Road.
As you would imagine, the scope of the project was spread out over a number of subcontractors – 25 to be exact. TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) had approximately 10 employees assigned to the job, performing inspections. The biggest problem that was encountered was maintaining traffic flow between parts of the existing Lantana Road and new sections as they were completed. Helping in this effort was the use of orange and white barrels. Approximately 600 barrels were used during construction. TDOT does not keep a record of the number of barrels lost after being hit by vehicles.
Some of the earliest work involved electric crews setting new, much taller concrete and/or steel poles and then relocating the wires. Site preparation began as the former two-lane road became two driving lanes both directions, a turn lane and safety lanes on both sides. When grading was complete, crews began putting forms in place for pouring concrete for curbing, driveways, drains and sidewalks. When ready mix concrete trucks began to appear, we knew the job was progressing. Over 4,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured. In the Old Lantana Road area, orange and white barrels had been helping guide motorists through the construction zone maze. During the early stages, traffic moved partly on existing roadway and partly on newly paved areas. For the entire job, almost 100,000 tons of asphalt was laid.
To help motorists move quickly and safely through the construction zone, yellow striping was put down as quickly as possible. Over 40 lane-miles of paint and approximately 24 lane-miles of thermoplastic were used for striping throughout the various stages of construction. One striping subcontractor handled the entire job.
Some people wondered why there was a grassy area between the sidewalk and the curb. That is where mailboxes would be installed.
One thing I had not seen before was the netting that was put down on bare dirt areas. TDOT has been using this method for seeding for several years. Seed is applied before the matting is placed. There is straw between two layers of netting, held in place by metal spikes.
One of the most unusual pieces of equipment used on the job was a “feller buncher.” It was used during site clearing phase. A feller buncher is a type of harvester used in logging. It is a motorized vehicle with a tree-grabbing device, furnished with a chain saw, that fells trees and then gathers trunks and branches in bunches to be picked up and hauled away.
Now that the project is complete, some of you may be wondering about names for the existing Lantana Road and the new Lantana Road. The new road will be known simply as Lantana Road. The existing Lantana Road has been renamed Old Lantana Road and is officially closed to through traffic. There are two connecting roads from Old Lantana Road to Lantana Road – at the car wash and beside Obed River Kennels – but traffic officials discourage use of these roads except on rare occasions.
There are no plans at this time for future expansion of Lantana Road past the Miller Avenue intersection.
“Thank you” to Jennifer Flynn, Regional Community Relations Officer TDOT, who furnished information and worked with me on this article.