City to accept $4.4M from TDOT for Bear Creek/Nashville Highway project

Early morning drivers travel through the intersection at Nashville Highway and Bear Creek Pike, what is considered the busiest intersection in the city.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has granted $4.4 million in additional funding regarding the long-awaited project to update the intersection at Bear Creek Pike and Nashville Highway.

The funding will be voted on Thursday as part of Columbia City Council's consent agenda, which includes items deemed noncontroversial bundled together in a single vote.

More: Growth continues at Bear Creek, Nashville Highway amid infrastructure needs

The project, which would include widening a portion of Bear Creek, was originally approved by TDOT in 2017, with 80% of funding to be provided using federal monies, while the remaining 20% provided by TDOT. In other words, it wouldn't cost the city a dime, but it has cost many years of waiting to break ground.

The additional $4.4 million requested, City Engineer Glen Harper said, would primarily be used to fund extra landscaping. construction and environmental requirements.

"We found that we have some shortfalls in funding for construction, and so we request that TDOT cover an additional $4.4 million for construction funds, which they granted the request," Harper said. "There have been many changes in the requirements TDOT has, environmental studies and other things that need to be done for the project."

The changes also include altering certain easements and right-of-way to allow construction.

"I have never seen a project with such need for hurdles and environmental requirements, but it's just part of the process," Harper said.

Harper added that the original estimated start date for the project was December of 2024. However, the additional construction could set the already years-in-the-making project back.

"With this right of way requirement, it could add anything from 18-24 months," Harper said. "We're going to push it more aggressively now since we have the funding for construction. It just depends on the timing, responses from TDOT and requirements as far as studies go."

In addition, Mayor Chaz Molder asked for updates to the ongoing I-65 interchange project at Bear Creek, at which Harper said they "fell about 12 months behind, but it's moving along." Completion of that project would likely time up with the start of the Nashville Highway project, Harper said,

Jay Powell is a general reporter for The Daily Herald. Get up-to-date news in your inbox by subscribing to The Daily Herald newsletter at

This article originally appeared on The Daily Herald: City to accept $4.4 million for Bear Creek/Nashville Highway project