Chattanooga workers began a $3.5 million road project Monday to extend Goodwin Road, create a new traffic circle to relieve congestion along Gunbarrel Road, and create a direct route for the new East Brainerd elementary school.
The project, which has been part of the city's long-term plan to curb traffic near Hamilton Place mall, will provide a way in and out of the future school where the old David Brainerd school currently sits.
The Hamilton County Commission put the brakes on the elementary school project, extending the deadline until August 2015 because of complications involving a three-way land swap, plans to explore using the old building and to work out a deal with the city to extend Goodwin Road.
Chattanooga Transportation Director Blythe Bailey said the city plans to complete the roundabout in front of the baseball fields by spring and the road project by August 2014.
Currently, Goodwin Road deadends behind Walmart near Gunbarrel Road, but the construction will connect the road past the elementary school to Jenkins Road. The road will also include a roundabout.
"We knew the school was planning to move and we knew traffic patterns were going to change," Bailey said. "It will be the primary way for parents to drop off and bring their kids to school."
City Engineer Dennis Malone said having a connecting road to Gunbarrel should also relieve some of the added traffic that will exist when the school opens. Ultimately the timing is right, he said since the Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to finish its Shallowford Road widening project within months.
On Monday, workers began construction on a temporary road for drivers while they construct the roundabout connecting Jenkins Road and Batters Place.
Councilman Larry Grohn said he is trying to work on an extension to the road plan which would include sidewalks from Jenkins Road to Igou Gap Road. Parents in the neighborhood could walk their children to the new school.
"It's one of those 'well, duh' things," he said. "We have an elementary school right up the street."
Currently, the funds aren't available to extend the sidewalks past the intersection, Bailey said.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6659.