CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County and Cleveland leaders recently heard highlights of a transportation study that projects the amount of freight carried on local roads will double in 20 years.
In a meeting with the Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, city planning director Greg Thomas reviewed highlights of a freight management study conducted in the spring.
“It really does have a significant effect on our roadway system and highlights the need to continue to make those improvements within the [planning organization] that make it possible for industries and businesses to move their freight,” Thomas said.
The study by Cambridge Systematics Inc. estimated that 9.4 million tons of freight travel on Cleveland roads each year. Projections are that amount will increase to 18.9 million tons by 2035.
At least 90 percent of Cleveland’s freight is transported by truck, Thomas said, and 51 percent of Bradley County employment is tied to goods-dependent industries, as opposed to service-based industries.
That amount surpasses figures for larger metropolitan areas, such as Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville, which employ only between 23 percent and 31 percent in freight-dependent manufacturing and distribution industries.
“It underscores the heavy amount of manufacturing businesses and distribution businesses we have within our area and just how important freight is to us,” Thomas said.
Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis asked Thomas whether the study included data from the recent arrival of Amazon and the retention of Whirlpool.
Thomas said the April 2011 report did not include information on either company, as those commitments had not been finalized during the time of study.
The study underscores the need for many practical aspects of road design, the planning director said, including ample turning space at intersections and improving corridor flow to major highways.
In regard to current transportation projects, it was announced that right-of-way documents for the APD 40 local interchange connector near Exit 20 on Interstate 75 were due to be signed.
“We do expect to get all the right-of-way documents signed today,” said Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
The interchange connector will give quick interstate access to a proposed industrial park in southern Bradley County near McDonald. Economic development officials have said the location is ideally suited for supply chain partners for companies such as Wacker and Volkswagen.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.