MPO ranks area's top 6 roadway projects

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 11/2/17

State, regional, county and city officials met at Wednesday's Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization at the Cleveland Municipal Building.Priority action, directed by MPO Coordinator …

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MPO ranks area's top 6 roadway projects

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State, regional, county and city officials met at Wednesday's Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization at the Cleveland Municipal Building.

Priority action, directed by MPO Coordinator Greg Thomas, was to comply with a request from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to rank TIPs (Transportation Improvement Projects) for the next three years.

Six priority projects were listed, which were considered by the Technology Committee prior to the MPO discussion.  The committee made its recommendation to the MPO.

Thomas emphasized TDOT was asking for a ranking of these proposed projects, adding that the MPO could add another project for consideration — if the board so wished.

The top four projects to be ranked included (in order):

No. 1: The widening of Georgetown Road from north of Interstate 75 to State Route 306 near Hopewell Elementary School;

No. 2: The widening of North Lee Highway, from near Anatole Lane to State Route 308 (Lauderdale Memorial Highway) in Charleston;

No. 3: Improvements and widening of Interstate 75 from Interchange 33 (Lauderdale Memorial Highway) north to near the Bradley-McMinn County line; and

No. 4: Improvements  and widening of Georgetown Road west from State Route 306 at Hopewell Elementary School to near State Route 58 in Hamilton County.

The MPO, as well as the committee meeting earlier, pulled the other two projects out of the original six.

The last two ranked projects considered are a truck-climbing lane (for slow-moving tractor-trailers ascending steep inclines) on Interstate 75 southbound at White Oak Mountain, and the widening of I-75 to six lanes from Exit 20 in Bradley County south to the Hamilton County Lane.

The MPO approved these two projects as No. 5 and No. 6, but also recommend they be combined into one project.

Wes Hughen of TDOT assisted participants in both meetings by providing information on where each of the transportation projects are at this time.

Hughen said the state is now deep into the acquisition stage for this initial widening of Georgetown Road. He said the state is in the process of acquiring 118 parcels, and relocating seven residents and seven businesses.

This widening should relieve traffic congestion along this section of the state highway, including three schools — Cleveland Middle School, Bradley County's  Hopewell Elementary, and the city's new Candy's Creek Cherokee Elementary.

In regard to the widening of North Lee Highway, Hughen said  survey work has started, which will lead to preliminary design of an upgraded five-lane highway.

Widening of I-75 from Exit 33 to the McMinn County line is scheduled for 2018.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland asked about plans for the bridge mid-way on this 2.1-mile widening stretch, and was told that is still to be determined.

The Georgetown Road extension to Highway 58 will begin with survey work.

Hughen said he felt the state would combined to two final projects on I-75 south, working on the widening and the truck lane at the same time.

In other MPO action Wednesday, the panel approved a motion by Rowland to accept Safety Performance Measures adopted by the state.

The regional MPO could have established its own standards, but that would involve considerable time and expense.

The MPO's annual meeting will be conducted at the organization's next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Thomas and his staff are also determining the organization's 2018 calendar.

There was little additional discussion Wednesday, but Beth Blevins of the Tennessee Department of Health was introduced.

Blevins said her state organization is hoping to partner more closely with community planners and MPOs, due to the increase of interest across the state in parks, walking/cycling trails and physical activity opportunities.

These opportunities have become increasingly important to several local organizations and individuals in the Cleveland/Bradley County community.


Inset Text:

Hughen said the state is now deep into the acquisition stage for this initial widening of Georgetown Road. He said the state is in the process of acquiring 118 parcels, and relocating seven residents and seven businesses.

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