published Friday, October 7th, 2011

Meeting considers interchange on APD 40 near exit 20 on Interstate 75

By Paul Leach
  • photo
    Officials are considering the expansion of Cleveland's southernmost I-75 interchange, exit 20, in an attempt to minimize congestion.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Matt Bentley doesn't want to see a daily caravan of 18 wheelers rolling through his neighborhood in the McDonald community.

But he's afraid that's just what will happen if a proposed interchange is built on APD 40 near exit 20 on Interstate 75.

"I want to make sure that we understand what we're doing," Bentley said Tuesday during a meeting with Tennessee Department of Transportation officials and McDonald, Tenn., residents.

During the meeting, which included nearly 20 county and city officials, Bentley and fellow resident Joanna Duncan expressed fears that connecting Harriman Road to APD 40 would harm the local community's safety and viability, especially if a proposed industrial park is later placed in the same area.

Residents are afraid industrial development will not be able to limit commercial traffic to APD 40's connection to Harriman Road, said Bentley. They worry that tractor-trailers would instead cut through McDonald on Harriman Road and Bancroft Road on their way to and from U.S. Highway 11, he said.

They're also concerned about higher traffic on the roads from employees who would work at the proposed Spring Branch Industrial Park, according to Bentley.

Local authorities have some "traffic calming" options at their disposal, said Teresa Estes, TDOT transportation coordinator.

While the county cannot inhibit traffic, it can use signage that will inform drivers of slow speeds and the 10 percent grade on Harriman Road, said Estes. Such measures can discourage drivers from casually cutting through the community, she said.

In regards to handling tractor-trailer traffic, the industrial park project includes a proposal for a truck turnaround to help keep the big wheels between the park and APD 40, according to Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

The time and gas spent going through McDonald also would be prohibitive for commercial transport since it would be cheaper and quicker to access I-75 by APD 40, said Berry.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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