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Wider Ruritan closer to reality by the shovelful

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By Cindy Simpson

Dark gray clouds and booms of thunder loomed overhead while state, Harriman and Roane County officials celebrated the pending widening project of Ruritan Road/Hwy. 29A with a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Contractors The Rogers Group and state officials will have a pre-construction meeting early next month to stamp out details on the $9.6 million project, which finishes the project that started with widening Pine Ridge Road, once a winding country road that now merges onto Ruritan Road.

“We hope to begin construction sometime in September and we hope to have the construction done by the end of May 2016,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer.

“So this will be a great addition to this highway, and we are excited to get it done.”

State Sen. Ken Yager has been working on getting the project to the city for a long time.

“We were finally able to bring it to fruition today,” Yager said.

“The project has been a long time coming, but when it is finished, it is going to provide safer and more accessible roadways.”

Harriman Mayor Chris Mason made light of the delays, but he also praised City Council members for their determination and persistence in pushing him to push state officials to get moving.

“They kept me on my toes,” he said. “Since 2003 this project has been asked for and has been kept on the forefront and is going to happen now with great and positive feedback for this project, which is sometime unusual.”

Mason joked that he always knew if the project was not on the list to move forward when Yager bumped him to voice mail.

More information on construction schedules, traffic control and diversion will be decided after the pre-construction meeting next month.

Schroer said the reason behind delays is because the department does not take on debt to complete projects.

Instead, TDOT waits until funds are available for projects, Schroer said.