published Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Sweet relief at Signal Mountain exit

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    Vehicles leave the U.S. Highway 27 exit ramp onto Signal Mountain Road on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Chattanooga, Tenn., after two additional lanes bypassing the traffic light were added to relieve traffic congestion.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

Relief has arrived for motorists exiting U.S. Highway 27 North at Signal Mountain Road.

Workers completed the new permanent two-lane, free-flow ramp at the intersection late Tuesday night that transportation officials say should reduce travel time for thousands of drivers in the area who have been delayed by construction to the ramp for close to six weeks.

Those exiting to travel toward Signal Mountain will no longer be subject to a traffic light or police direction.

This phase of the $102 million TDOT project to widen U.S. 27 and redo three interchanges was scheduled to be completed by March 31, but officials chose to expedite completion of the ramp because of the delays the construction caused, especially during rush hour.

About 29,000 drivers use the Signal Mountain Road exit ramp daily, said TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn.

"Traffic should really run a lot better and work a lot smoother out there now," Flynn said.

To help speed up the ramp construction process, contractors laid a more expensive concrete that dries faster than regular concrete.

Signal Mountain resident Gary Starnes appreciated the effort. He used the new ramp for the first time Wednesday at lunch time.

"I thought it was great," said Starnes, who commutes to downtown where he is a judge in Hamilton County General Sessions Court. "With that clogged up the way it was, I couldn't get off at that exit."

Starnes had been using the Mountain Creek Road exit instead of exiting at Signal Mountain Road to avoid waits of what he said were more than 30 minutes.

"With this, I'm pretty sure at a maximum you might be there 10 minutes," Starnes said.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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