Contacting TDOT in writing will allow opinions to become part of the official transport of a community public meeting held recently at Cleveland Middle School, Watson stressed. The meeting was attended by about 120 area residents, many of whom expressed concerns about the TDOT projects because — as currently drawn — they affect homeowners’ private property or in some cases businesses.
“The Tennessee Department of Transportation held this public meeting to discuss two projects along a 7.8-mile section of State Route 60 from the four-lane north of Interstate 75 at Westlake Drive to State Route 58 in Hamilton County,” Watson explained. “One initiative is a ‘Design Project’ and the other is a ‘Corridor Project.’”
To help area residents better understand the projects as proposed, Watson discussed both in detail.
TDOT has developed preliminary plans on a three-mile section of SR 60 from the existing four-lane roadway north of the interstate at Westlake Drive to Eureka Road, also recognized as SR 306, Watson cited. This design project is part of a larger initiative that was presented in detail at the public meeting. The Cleveland Daily Banner provided full coverage of the meeting’s proceedings in the April 27 edition.
“The proposed design project will widen existing SR 60 from a two-lane to a five-lane road with 10-foot shoulders, curb and gutter, and five-foot sidewalks,” the state legislator pointed out. “The design project is proposed to receive right-of-way funding in Fiscal Year 2014. If funded, the earliest right-of-way acquisition could start would be early 2014. The design project has not been funded for construction. If funded, construction could begin in late 2015 or early 2016.”
The Corridor Project also was discussed in detail at the public meeting. This segment along SR 60 includes the Design Project previously described and also the stretch from SR 306 (Eureka Road) in Bradley County to SR 58 in Hamilton County.
“The 4.8-mile section from State Route 306 (Eureka Road) to State Route 58 in Hamilton County is in the environmental studies phase (early development) and is not funded in the TDOT Highway Program budget for either the design, right-of-way acquisition or construction phases,” Watson stressed.
He said the proposed project would widen the highway to a four-lane divided roadway on new alignment with four 12-foot-wide travel lanes and a 48-foot grass median on a 300-foot right-of-way.
“The maps that were presented at the meeting for this segment of State Route 60 from State Route 306 to State Route 58 show the proposed highway corridor of this segment,” Watson cited. “As these maps were preliminary, they showed a much wider corridor than what would be necessary for the final roadway design.”
The veteran Bradley County legislator encouraged area residents to express themselves if they wish to be included in the public meeting’s transcripts. Regardless of a person’s positions on the proposals, they should be included in the public meeting transcripts, Watson stressed.
“The State Route 60 projects are being developed in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration to improve local and regional accessibility, improve safety and operating conditions in the area, increase traffic capacity and accommodate future anticipated growth,” he said. “These projects will deliver a much safer and efficient transportation system for north Bradley County.”
Comments on the SR 60 projects should be mailed to: Project Meeting Comments, Attn. State Route 60 Corridor, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Suite 700 James K. Polk Building, 505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243-0332.
Area residents attending the April 26 public meeting expressed concerns about possibly losing their homes, property, farmland and having their businesses impacted. According to TDOT documents, in its early stages the right of way is expected to encompass 251 total acres of which 150 are farmland. The projects are expected to affect 13 residences and six businesses.
Project planning dates back more than a decade.
An Environmental Assessment report was prepared and approved by the Federal Highway Administation on Oct. 18, 2001, with a public hearing held on Dec. 11, 2001. Since that time, TDOT has worked to prepare a Finding of No Significant Impact (a reference to environment) which will complete the environmental phase.
The first segment will move into final design, development of right of way plans and construction if the Federal Highway Administration approves the environmental document later this year.