“The estimate that was done initially by the local agency (the county) did not meet TDOT guidelines, so that number comparison, that number makes no sense compared to our number,” said Frank Creasman, Region 2 chief of right of way appraisal for TDOT.
The TDOT estimates are required to be based on worst-case scenarios which may include court costs related to acquiring land.
“The big bulk of this estimate is damages that we’re required under state law to consider,” Creasman said.
Creasman said the TDOT estimates include relocation, damages and easement costs for all three roads.
County Engineer Sandra Knight used information from the county assessors office in order to have an estimate to submit when the 2011-12 budget was being drafted.
Knight said preliminary estimates were made based on the amount of acreage TDOT said would be involved. Knight said the estimate only included purchasing the land needed for expanding the right of way. Right of way includes the road, the shoulder and usually a little beyond the pavement.
“It didn’t include damages, it didn’t include surveys, it didn’t include fees. It didn’t include anything like that,” Knight said.
Therefore, only $114,000 was included in the budget for the project.
The project would expand Durkee Road and Benton Pike and provide improvements to a section of Michigan Avenue Road. Much of the property that would be needed for the right of way is commercial, with some residential.
Scott Medlin, Region 2 TDOT project manager, said 59 tracts of land are involved in the project. A typical project for TDOT has fewer tracts affected and has fewer residential tracts involved.
Damage-related costs for the entire project are estimated at $1.7 million.
Benton Pike would be a three-lane road but Durkee Road would remain two-lane.
Robert Rodgers of TDOT said the right of way for Durkee Road would be 80 to 90 feet. Committee member Mel Griffith asked if Durkee Road could be improved within the existing right of way in order to cut down on costs.
Creasman said the lack of a shoulder makes it difficult to expand the road within the right of way because the section of Durkee Road being discussed has a ditch on either side. The current plan is to fill in the ditch to expand the road, and then put a new ditch on either side of the road for drainage.
Medlin said all the plans are complete but TDOT cannot move forward until the deposit is paid. He said acquiring the land for the expanded right of way would take at least a year.
If the Cleveland City Council does not change what it will contribute to the project, the county would be responsible for everything outside the city, and half of everything in the city. This would be $1.6 million. Morelock and Elkins pointed out even if the city split the costs equally, it would still be more than either government had planned.
The county has the option to work on only part of the project. The majority of the work would be done on Durkee Road. A TDOT grant is covering road construction and half of the right of way and damages costs. This leaves 50 percent of the right of way and damages costs to be paid by the local match. The local portion to improve only Durkee Road would be $1 million.
Davis said the finance committee could probably come up with $500,000 within the current budget.
At one point, a motion was on the table to postpone funding for the industrial park to fund the road improvements.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said that plan would not provide any funding for the project because the funding for the industrial park is not available until 2014. The motion was later withdrawn.