Report on Status of Transportation Issues
The following is an updated list of the transportation issues that our community has been working on with the state and federal governments.
1. Exit 20 at I-75 construction: Approved and funded; awaiting construction.
2. APD 40 Interchange: Approved; planning ongoing; awaiting local funding match and will be funded.
*Note: Acknowledgment: We should acknowledge that the reason these two projects were expedited and approved above more timely projects is simply due to the location of Volkswagen in Southeast Tennessee. The state and federal governments recognize that this is the next closest exit with unimproved land. Accordingly, the state and federal governments have expedited and prioritized these two projects ahead of where they normally would be.
While these two projects are prioritized and will be built, pending local compliance, it is always good to know that State Rep. Eric Watson will be able to continue to monitor these projects from his position on the House Transportation Committee.
3. Highway 60 South/Dalton Pike: The construction is ongoing and the project should be completed in the very near future.
4. Highway 60 North/Georgetown: The engineering study was completed and public hearings have been held. Several years ago we asked the state not to move on this project until the Highway 60 South/Dalton Pike project was funded and completed. Thus, we should expect this project to be funded after completion of the Highway 60 South/Dalton Pike. Please remember there are two phases to this project. The initial phase is to go from Cleveland Middle School to Hopewell School. The next phase will be going from Hopewell School/Freewill Road to Highway 58.
5. Highway 11 from Anatole to Charleston: The study and engineering have been completed. The local government is awaiting support from the Bradley County Commission. Once the Bradley County Commission's support is given, then we should expect this project to be funded for right-of-way acquisition and construction in due course.
6. I-75 Widening of Lanes: The state is on record supporting the widening of I-75 and this is a project that the state and federal governments will pursue, but it is not a priority.
7. Cleveland and Bradley County Greenway: This project has been primarily funded by the state of Tennessee and is substantially complete. Future extension of the Greenway from the Home Depot location to the Soccer Complex is expected.
8. Fletcher Park: This is a project of the city of Cleveland and it has been funded by private grants, funds from the city of Cleveland and matching funds from the state of Tennessee. The park has been completed in various phases and the park is substantially complete. Maintenance and further phases for the park are the needs for Fletcher Park.
9. Exit 25 Improvements: These have been approved and are under way. Improvements should be expected. Note, I have spoken with TDOT and the state transportation office has agreed to replace the right-of-way fence on the south side of Exit 25. The fence is in a poor state of repair and no longer serves its purpose of keeping people from coming onto the state right-of-way. It is expected that the fence will be replaced this fall.
1. Education K-12: The BEP has been fully funded since 1999. Additionally, every year since 1999 the state has fully funded the growth allowance numbers for the basic education program. Accordingly, K-12 education has been fully funded each and every year. We should continue to expect this as K-12 education is essential.
2. Cleveland State Community: Cleveland State is our community's hidden crown jewel. If utilized properly, with the continued strong leadership of the current administration and a continued commitment from our community, then Cleveland State can continue to make a huge difference for Southeast Tennessee.
Over the past 12 years, our community has partnered with Cleveland State to bring jobs, job training and education to our southeastern counties for economic development purposes and for the education of our citizens and workforce. With a new Chancellor appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents, we have an opportunity to more actively support Cleveland State both from a state perspective and as a Southeast Tennessee community.
Cleveland State is one of the best assets that we have and we must continue to address the needs of Cleveland State by empowering the college financially to really change our community, both from an economic perspective and from an education perspective. This is a key component that provides Southeast Tennessee with a distinct advantage over other areas in the state that are competing with our community for economic development job creation and training a workforce.
My point is this. We cannot rely upon the state to do this alone. To do so is to not give us an advantage over other regions of the state that have the same educational opportunities that we have.
The difference has been and will continue to be a partnership of the administration of Cleveland State and our community. It is incumbent upon our local governments and our private citizens to support Cleveland State and to think outside the box as to how we can continue to utilize Cleveland State as a difference-maker to both retain and support our current industry and to secure new industry.
The opportunity is before us. Based upon my experiences in state government, Cleveland State is the key for our future in educating our citizens, training our workforce and securing and retaining good jobs for our citizens.
It's that simple. Cleveland State can be a difference-maker if we choose to make it that.