published Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

TDOT plans changes for I-75 exit ramps in Cleveland, TN

Vehicles use the northbound exit ramp of exit 25 on Interstate 75 on Tuesday in Cleveland, Tenn. A Tennessee Department of Transportation proposal calls for adding more lanes to both the northbound and southbound exit ramps.
Vehicles use the northbound exit ramp of exit 25 on Interstate 75 on Tuesday in Cleveland, Tenn. A Tennessee Department of Transportation proposal calls for adding more lanes to both the northbound and southbound exit ramps.
Photo by John Rawlston.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Transportation has proposed changes to improve traffic flow and vehicle capacity of the exit ramps at the Interstate 75 interchange at 25th Street and Georgetown Road.

In a recent meeting, Cleveland Utilities board members reviewed details of the plans, which were reported by Bart Borden, vice president of the utility's electric division.

"The project will not only expand the ramps to dual lanes, but will also provide dual left lanes onto I-75 southbound from Georgetown Road," said Borden. "This is a great example of TDOT responding to the needs of the community."

Plans also call for dedicated right turns for both northbound and southbound entrance ramps to I-75, said Borden.

No date was specified by state transportation officials regarding when the project might begin during their meetings with Cleveland Utilities' traffic signal coordinator, said Borden.

Signal timing changes were made within the past year at the exit to improve traffic flows and address stacking concerns on the ramps.

Georgetown Road endures heavy congestion between I-75 and Freewill Road, especially during peak morning and afternoon traffic hours.

Schools play a role in the congestion.

Two schools -- Cleveland Middle School and Hopewell Elementary -- are located within three miles of each other on the corridor. The Cleveland school system also plans to build a new elementary school between the two facilities.

The proposals associated with exit 25 are not directly related to plans to widen a nearby stretch of Georgetown Road, which forms part of the State Route 60 corridor that runs through Bradley County.

That project -- which calls for expanding the road from two lanes to five vehicle lanes, plus the addition of bike lanes, sidewalks and curbing -- extends westward to the intersection of Georgetown Road and Freewill Road, where Hopewell Elementary is located.

Discussions regarding property acquisitions for the improvements are expected to occur this fall, said Scott Medlin, TDOT project manager, in a recent meeting of the SR 60 corridor management committee.

Those discussions were originally planned for May, but were delayed because of the environmental study process, he said.

"It's taking us a little bit longer to get our technical studies done," said Medlin. "By the late part of summer we expect to have our environmental document completed."

TDOT will issue letters to affected property owners once the Federal Highway Administration approves the environmental document, he said.

Funding for the Georgetown Road improvements is a key issue in the whole process, said Bradley County Commissioner Terry Caywood, who serves as vice chairman of the corridor management committee.

"The money for purchasing rights of way for the project has been appropriated by the state Legislature, but the moneys for building the highway have not been appropriated," he said.

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

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