published Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Cherokee Gateway projects reportedly on track in Bradley County

  • photo
    At Interstate 75, near Cleveland, large semi trucks cross paths at the bottlenecked area around exit 20. A new Pilot Truck and Auto Plaza has increased traffic to the already crowded two-lane bridge over the interstate, and the state has plans eventually to add lanes so traffic will flow more smoothly.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
    enlarge photo

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A number of road projects are under way on APD-40 near exit 20 on Interstate 75, and they play key roles for a proposed industrial development in Bradley County.

A pair of new connecting roads will tie into a planned interchange on APD-40 and coincide with major improvements proposed for exit 20, planning officials said. The connectors recently were dubbed Cherokee Gateway North and Cherokee Gateway South by county and city leaders.

Cherokee Gateway South is under construction, Cleveland Senior Planner Greg Thomas said. The 11/2-mile-long road will connect Harriman Road to APD-40.

Thomas said the southern connector is expected to be completed soon and the interchange, a state project, is under "an accelerated schedule." The goal is to have all the roadwork completed within a few years.

In the meantime, plans are advancing for Spring Branch Industrial Park adjacent to the APD-40/I-75 corridor, said Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

"We are in the final phases of preparing our submission to the state," Berry said. "All of the environmental tests and historical surveys performed on the area have been pretty consistent with our expectations."

The road and industrial development projects have created some concern among local residents. In meetings with state and county officials last summer, several people expressed worry that the McDonald community would be subjected to heavy commercial traffic and that its creeks would get uncontrolled stormwater runoff.

Muddy water in Brymer Creek recently renewed those concerns, Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins said, adding he received a number of complaints about cloudy water flowing from Spring Branch into the waterway.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation investigated the complaint on Aug. 8, said Meg Lockhart, an agency representative. The contractor handling the southern connector project was cited for improper erosion controls, which resulted in some sediment spillage into the creeks, she said.

The contractor has taken corrective actions and TDEC is monitoring the situation, Lockhart said.

While the incident is unfortunate, Berry said, it did not constitute a crisis, nor did it forecast similar problems for developing industrial parcels in the area.

In fact, Berry said, the industrial park project actually calls for taking restorative measures for Spring Branch.

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

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