Such opinions, concerns or questions will be entered into the official transcripts of the TDOT public meeting that was held April 26 at Cleveland Middle School. The session was attended by about 120 area residents to hear details about the proposed projects, how they could potentially impact area property owners, funding expectations and construction timetables.
Even local residents who don’t have a direct stake in the proposed development are welcome to submit their opinions.
According to the three members of Bradley County’s legislative delegation, it is important that local residents have their voices heard. In some cases, these might be voices of opposition. In others, they could be opinions of support. And sometimes it could be just a matter of entering questions to TDOT into the public record.
State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville repesenting the 9th Senatorial District, and State Reps. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, and Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District, all have constituencies impacted either directly or indirectly by the SR 60 projects.
Some are homeowners.
Some are homeowners who have farmland involved.
Some are homeowners who operate small businesses in the area.
All have protected rights to their opinions. Each should be heard. Such road construction projects of this magnitude are never easy. First, it becomes a matter of funding for state, federal and even local governments. Second, it is timetables which is a reference to length of time required for such complicated developments and their inconveniences to the motoring public. But third, and this is the most critical, is the impact of such projects on home, property and business owners.
Such developments come bittersweet.
On the sweet end, once such massive road initiatives are completed our lives become just a little less complicated thanks to improved traffic flow, reduced congestion and safer travel.
On the bitter end, area families are often impacted. Sometimes it is for the good. Frequently, it is for the bad.
In worst-case scenarios, family relocation is necessary, businesses are negatively affected and land that has been worked for agriculture for generations is absorbed.
In best-case scenarios, minimal disruption is caused to area households and landowners, and a tight-knit construction timetable remains on schedule because environmental concerns are addressed and funding is available.
More times than not, such transportation improvements require give-and-take by all parties — state, federal and local transportation leaders who recognize short- and long-term public need; and impacted families whose longtime ways of life, and lifestyles, are being asked to surrender a level of tradition and emotional security.
For those unfamiliar with the SR 60 plans, based on preliminary details provided by TDOT, here’s the scope of the project.
TDOT is proposing a widening project of the state route from the existing four-lane north of Interstate 75 at Westlake Drive to Eureka Road which also is known as SR 306. This is about a three-mile section. The work would widen this leg of SR 60 from two to five lanes. This project is proposed to receive right-of-way funding in Fiscal Year 2014. If funded, the earliest that right-of-way acquisition could begin would be early 2014. Currently, this project has not been funded for construction. If funded, construction could begin in late 2015 or early 2016.
The second project calls for SR 60 widening to a divided four-lane roadway along a 4.8-mile section from SR 306 (Eureka Road) to SR 58 in Hamilton County. This project is in the environmental studies phase, also known as early development, and is not currently funded in the TDOT Highway Program budget for either the design, right-of-way acquisition or construction phases.
Those wishing to submit written comments for TDOT to enter into the April 26 public meeting transcripts have until Friday’s deadline. Comments may be mailed to: Project Meeting Comments, Attn. State Route 60 Corridor, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Suite 700 James K. Polk Building, 505 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN 37243-0332.
As proposed, the SR 60 projects would be beneficial in alleviating traffic congestion, improving transportation flow and maximizing roadway safety. But before it can become reality, much negotiation — and give-and-take by all involved — must be successfully completed.
We encourage cool heads during this trying process.
It might not be easy. Emotions likely will come into play.
But an open and honest communication is always the best, and most effective, first step.