'Cherokee Gateway' taking shape near I-75's Exit 20 at APD 40 in Cleveland

A portion of the interchange at Stones Lake Road in Bradley County is now open. The new roadway connects Interstate 75 to a planned industrial park south of APF 40 and west of U.S. Highway 11.
photo A portion of the interchange at Stones Lake Road, and APD 40 in Bradley County, is now open. The new roadway connects Interstate 75 to a planned industrial park south of APF 40 and west of U.S. Highway 11.

The state's part of the project to build an interchange linking Interstate 75 to the 330-acre Spring Branch Industrial Park south of APD 40 in Bradley County should wrap up by March.

Cherokee Gateway South, named by local officials to recognize its link to the Cherokee National Forest, is less than a half-mile east of the newly widened and revamped exit 20 at Interstate 75.

The Cherokee Gateway interchange will tie Stone Lake Road and the industrial park property to APD 40, the four-lane artery that circles most of the city of Cleveland. U.S. Highway 64 leads east to the Cherokee National Forest from APD 40's midpoint on the east side of town.

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said the completion date for the project, set first for October and then December, has been pushed to March 2017. Three of the four ramps at the interchange have been opened to traffic.

"The reason it's going to be late is because we had to wait on the relocation of a TVA power transmission line," Flynn said via email. TDOT's portion of the project cost just less than $22.6 million, she said.

The interchange is the last TDOT project in the exit 20 area, Flynn said.

Meanwhile, Bradley and Cleveland governments continue work on the local roads north and south of APD 40.

Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, said that local work is to connect to local streets on the north and south sides of APD 40.

Property fronting APD 40 near the interstate will be developed commercially, Farlow said, and work will begin in coming months to put infrastructure to the 330-acre industrial property to the south.

"We have to build an access road into the park and then [extend] water, sewer, electric and fiber," he said. He's hoping work will start by spring.

"And then we hope to be pretty much finished with construction by this time next year," Farlow said. Bad weather could affect those plans.

Prospective industries are starting to take notice, Farlow said. Even though Chattanooga's Volkswagen assembly plant is just 11 miles to the south, Farlow said interest has come from farther afield than just auto parts suppliers.

It's possible prospective industries will want to begin planning alongside infrastructure work in the park, he said.

"They could actually start designing their projects now," he said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.