Such a badge of dishonor was worn more than three decades ago due to a beleaguered interstate system that choked its way through Knoxville, but forward-thinking municipal traffic engineers and Tennessee Department of Transportation officials — in preparation for the 1982 World’s Fair — completed a costly but needed realignment.
Other cities in most states have staked claim to their own traffic nightmares. Those with such an interest can even “Google” the term “malfunction junction” and find detailed lists of states that have housed such exasperating roadway patterns.
Although on a tinier scale, the Exit 20 junction over the past few years has taken on such notoriety.
This is the importance of a public hearing scheduled in Cleveland this evening. To be hosted by TDOT, it is a National Environmental Policy Act Public Hearing intended to cover two key projects in south Bradley County.
One is the much-debated Exit 20 interchange and state plans to completely rework it with a new, and much wider I-75 overpass featuring multiple lanes; and the other is a new APD 40 interchange that will feature North and South Local Interstate Connector projects. Both were described in our newspaper on the front page (lead story) of Wednesday’s edition.
The discussions won’t be limited only to environmental concerns. The proposed designs will be available for review in detail, and local residents — whether they live in the area or are simply curious — will be invited to ask questions, voice concerns or simply look over the TDOT plans.
Although they are separate projects, the two nonetheless work as partners in order to provide improved traffic flow and increased access.
As with all transportation projects of this scope, funding is an ever-present hurdle, but it is one most believe will be tackled in both the short- and long-term future. Part has already received the necessary commitments.
The Exit 20 interchange project could begin right-of-way acquisition by mid-2012. However, the project has not yet been funded by Tennessee legislators for the construction phase. If funding is approved by a future session of the General Assembly, such as the one that convenes in January 2012, then interchange modification could get under way as soon as late 2012 or early 2013.
The separate APD 40 connector project, whose construction phase has been fully funded by the Tennessee General Assembly, could begin right-of-way acquisition by fall 2012, with construction starting up in mid-2013.
Both projects target a critical objective — improved access and traffic flow, especially from I-75, while benefiting access to South Lee Highway and APD 40.
TDOT is setting aside two hours for today’s public hearing. It is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. at Cleveland Middle School, located at 3635 Georgetown Road.
Any affected property owners, and those in neighboring subdivisions, should plan to attend even if just for the informational value.
Transportation projects of this magnitude are expensive and they take time to complete, as well as the patience and perseverance of impacted residents and motorists who travel these roadways regularly.
Both are excellent, and badly needed, projects. And each needs to be fully understood.
We encourage attendance at today’s public hearing.
We urge questions.