Local residents may also contact the legislators in person; however, contacting TDOT by the nearing May 25 deadline will enter these concerns into the official transcripts of a public meeting held April 26 at Cleveland Middle School.
“We are grateful that TDOT held this meeting to discuss local road projects and to hear from our constituents,” according to State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland who represents the 24th Legislative District. Part of the scheduled widening project of SR 60 is included within Brooks’ district.
The multi-jurisdictional project also is located within the 22nd Legislative District which is represented by State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland. The entire project, except for the section within Hamilton County, is included in the 9th Senatorial District represented by State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville. Bell’s district includes Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Meigs counties.
Brooks’ district is predominately the area of Cleveland, and Watson’s district is the rest of Bradley County, and all of Meigs and Polk counties.
The trio of legislators reminded area residents of the Friday deadline for entering their opinions or concerns into the TDOT public meeting transcripts. They pointed out some residents — regardless of whether their property is impacted by the project proposals, might have wanted to attend the late-April meeting but could not due to scheduling conflicts. Putting their views in writing to TDOT will assure their voice is heard, the legislators stressed.
“I did talk to one person who went to the Highway 60 meeting,” Bell explained. “This person appreciated TDOT giving area residents the opportunity to learn more about the project.”
Some 120 people attended the meeting, many of whom expressed concerns about the TDOT projects because — as currently drawn — they affect several homeowners’ private property or in some cases businesses.
The TDOT meeting provided details about two projects along a 7.8-mile section of SR 60 from the four-lane north of I-75 at Westlake Drive to SR 58 in Hamilton County.
Watson described the first as a “Design Project” and the other a “Corridor Project.”
He said the design project refers to a three-mile section of SR 60 from the existing four-lane at Westlake Drive to Eureka Road, also recognized as SR 306. This design project is part of a larger initiative.
“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,” Watson explained in a previous media statement. “The design project is proposed to receive right-of-way funding in Fiscal Year 2014.”
He said if funded, the earliest right-of-way acquisition could start would be early 2014. Currently, this design project has not been funded for construction. If funded, construction could begin in late 2015 or early 2016, Watson explained.
The second project initiative discussed in the late-April meeting is described in Watson’s press release as a corridor project. This segment along SR 60 includes the design project originating near CMS and also the stretch from SR 306 (Eureka Road) in Bradley County to SR 58 in Hamilton County.
“The 4.8-mile section from SR 306 (Eureka Road) to SR 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 explained.
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.
Watson said the preliminary maps of this second segment showed “... a much wider corridor than what would be necessary for the final roadway design.”
Like Brooks and Bell, Watson urged area residents — especially those whose property might be impacted — to voice their concerns in writing to TDOT. He also invited residents to contact him personally or any of the three members of the local legislative team.
Brooks concurred. He said road projects that improve the transportation system in Cleveland and Bradley County are welcome, but that affected area residents deserve to have their voices heard regardless of their position on construction proposals.
“The Highway 60 project begins in the 24th Legislative District and I am thankful for this funding, and the additional funding for other important road projects here in Cleveland,” Brooks said.
The 24th Legislative District representative joined Watson and Bell in welcoming public input.
“It is very important to hear from our constituents and to learn how this will affect the homes, families and small businesses along this road project route,” Brooks said. “We wecome all input from all sources to make Cleveland and Bradley County the best possible place to live, to work and to raise families.”
As he did in his previous media statement, Watson pointed to the importance of regional road projects that improve access to communities like Cleveland.
“The SR 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,” Watson 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 St., Nashville, TN 37243-0332. Deadline to have comments entered into the TDOT transcripts from the April 26 public meeting is Friday.
At the late-April gathering, several residents expressed concerns about possibly losing their homes, 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.