The Brentwood-area construction company Bell and Associates has won a $54 million contract for a project that will give Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station more direct access to Interstate 65.
The project includes the design and construction of a new interchange on I-65 and the extension of Buckner Road, between Buckner Lane and Lewisburg Pike in the eastern part of the city. The project is expected to be complete by May 2023.
A description of the project from the Tennessee Department of Transportation notes that the current I-65 interchanges near Spring Hill are reaching their capacity, which limits development in the area. The goal of the project is to improve regional connectivity and reduce traffic at existing interchanges.
The new exit will be a diverging diamond interchange, meaning drivers transition to the left side of the road on the overpass and then switching back at the other end.
In December 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Spring Hill a $25 million grant to help pay for the project.
“This interchange will create a gateway into Spring Hill, result in major improvements to our local roadways and give us what’s needed to attract a wide range of new corporate office investment so that more of our residents can work where they live,” Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham said in 2018. “This is great, great news… what a perfect Christmas present.”
In order to use those funds, the project will need to be completed quickly. By early 2019, Spring Hill had already contracted with Volkert Inc. to begin environmental clearance and preliminary engineering for the project.
TDOT is also using an expedited contracting process called “design-build” to speed up construction.
This expedited process means that prime contractor will partner with a designer to develop final design plans and complete other preliminary work. Bell and Associates has partnered with the engineering firm Neel-Schaffer for the Buckner Road interchange project.
TDOT expects the design phase to be completed by fall of 2022, and expects construction to start in the spring of 2022.
The interchange will be an important connection to the heart of Spring Hill, but also opens the door to development along I-65 on the eastern side of the city. In August 2020, the city of Spring Hill approved a 775 acre mixed use project called June Lake near the location of the new interchange.
The June Lake development could have up to 3.9 million square feet of commercial office space, 1.3 million square feet of restaurant and retail space, 2,900 homes and 400 hotel rooms. Developers expect to finish that project by September 2023, about the same time that the new interchange would also be completed.
In 2018, Wood Caldwell, a principal at Southeast Venture, which is developing June Lake, said the new project is the next step in the development of the I-65 corridor.
“The pattern is obvious, as it started in the early 1970s with Maryland Farms, then continued into the late 1980s and early 2000s with Cool Springs and Berry Farms, respectively,” Caldwell told the Nashville Post. “But the limit to that growth along I-65, according to our analysis, is at the 30-minute mark from downtown Nashville, which sits just beyond (June Lake) and the Buckner Road interchange.”