published Monday, April 15th, 2013

TDOT looking for I-24 improvements

  • photo
    Eastbound traffic on Interstate 24 backs up as vehicles descend the Ridge Cut toward I-75 on Friday afternoon. The state is beginning a study of improvement needs on I-24 from Chattanooga to the Kentucky line.
    Photo by Jay Bailey.
    enlarge photo

IF YOU GO

* What: Interstate 24 Corridor public meeting

* When: 5-7 p.m. April 25

* Where: Brainerd Community Center, 1010 N. Moore Road

* Submit written comments: Project comments, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Suite 700, James K. Polk Building, 505 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN 37423-0332, or TDOTcomments@tn.gov.

COUNTIES IN STUDY

• Hamilton

• Marion

• Franklin

• Grundy

• Coffee

• Bedford

• Cannon

• Rutherford

• Williamson

• Wilson

• Davidson

• Sumner

• Cheatham

• Robertson

• Montgomery

Source: TDOT

Hate slaloming between speeding cars and crawling trucks up the Ridge cut?

Tired of sitting and sitting and sitting in traffic while wreckers snake crunched cars out of the lanes in Lookout Valley?

Tell TDOT.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is taking public comments on what's wrong with Interstate 24 and suggestions on how to fix the 185-mile, 1960s-era highway between Chattanooga and Clarksville, Tenn.

It's part of a study that began in December and is scheduled for completion in January, said Joan Barnfield, TDOT project manager. I-24 is a strategic corridor that carries much of the state's traffic, links major activity centers and is under pressure from rapid traffic growth, according to TDOT.

"We're at the stage where we want people to tell us where they see problems and if they have any solutions," Barnfield said Friday by telephone from her Nashville office.

Jennifer Flynn, spokeswoman for TDOT's Region 2 office in Chattanooga, said the city is a victim of its own geography in some areas, such as where I-24 sweeps in a broad curve around the foot of Lookout Mountain.

"You've got the mountain and the railroad on one side and the river on the other. It's one of the things that makes our area so beautiful, but it also constrains what we can do" as far as expanding capacity, Flynn said.

Barnfield said the agency's consultant, London-based Atkins, will use everything from population numbers to business patterns, crash data to 20-year truck traffic projections to help identify problems and solutions.

"You can say it gives us a map of what's going to happen, what's needed not just today but in the future," she said. "One of the things we're wanting is, are there other solutions? Is there anything else that can be done?"

For instance, solving the problem of heavy congestion through Chattanooga to I-75. In 2011, TDOT counted an average of 116,000 vehicles per day climbing or descending the Ridge cut on I-24.

The cost of widening the highway through that heavily urbanized area would be staggering, she said, so the study will look for other solutions.

"This is multimodal. We're not just looking at building roads; we're trying to see if we could establish a bus in a certain area, or could we somehow get rail involved and get some of the trucks off the road?" Barnfield said. "If it's a bad situation and we don't know how to make it better, we want the report to show that."

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at 423-757-6416 or jwalton@timesfreepress.com.

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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