Early steps in proposed Bonny Oaks widening project underway in Chattanooga

Redoubt Soccer Complex impacted but won't force changes

Staff photo by Ben Benton / A proposed project to widen Bonny Oaks Drive to five lanes from Bonnyshire Drive to Interstate 75 could have some impact on the Redoubt Soccer Complex property where it fronts Bonny Oaks, but there will be no changes to fields, parking lots or the complex's walking trail after the work is complete, according to Tennessee Department of Transportation officials. Here, traffic passes the main entrance to the complex, shown on March 23, 2022.
Staff photo by Ben Benton / A proposed project to widen Bonny Oaks Drive to five lanes from Bonnyshire Drive to Interstate 75 could have some impact on the Redoubt Soccer Complex property where it fronts Bonny Oaks, but there will be no changes to fields, parking lots or the complex's walking trail after the work is complete, according to Tennessee Department of Transportation officials. Here, traffic passes the main entrance to the complex, shown on March 23, 2022.

A proposed project to widen almost 2 miles of Bonny Oaks Drive from Bonnyshire Drive to Interstate 75 is in its early stages after a 21-day comment period ended Wednesday related to the work's impact on the Redoubt Soccer Complex property.

The proposed project area abuts the 32.9-acre county complex, which has eight soccer fields, two concession stands with attached restrooms, a mile-long walking track around the property's perimeter and a soapbox derby track. The work will have some impact on facilities nearest Bonny Oaks Drive like the walking track, according to Tennessee Department of Transportation information on the project.

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The transportation department provided information to county management and Redoubt Soccer Association officials about the proposed project's impact on the complex, according to the association's president.

The association's members "have no concerns with the planned project so far," Shannon Rominger said Thursday in an email.

"I feel like they gave us all the information they could anticipate about the project," Rominger said. "The only thing I have been told that may be impacted by anything is the part of the walking track near Field 8. That part may have to be closed or rerouted for a bit while they work on the road above that section."

Details on the Bonny Oaks widening project are pretty scant except for a recent public notice on the comment period.

"This project is in the earliest stages, which are engineering and right-of-way," Department of Transportation spokesperson Beth Emmons said Thursday in an email. "There is no timeline or cost associated yet."

According to documents on the proposed project, Bonny Oaks would be widened from two to five lanes from west of Bonnyshire Drive - where the Tennessee Department of Safety Driver Testing Center is - to its terminus at Exit 7 on I-75. Bonny Oaks is already at least five lanes wide for about a half-mile between I-75 and Silverdale Road, so the proposed project information doesn't speak to that already widened section.

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Proposed plans for the rest of the targeted Bonny Oaks segment call for a five-lane roadway with two 12-foot traffic lanes in each direction, a 12-foot-wide continuous center left-turn lane and curbing and guttering. On the north side of Bonny Oaks, plans include a 5-foot grass strip and 10-foot multiuse path while the south side of the roadway would include a 2-foot grass strip and 5-foot sidewalk, according to the Department of Transportation.

As the proposed widened route passes Redoubt, 1,041 square feet of permanent drainage easement and approximately 1.5 acres of temporary construction easement would be acquired by the Department of Transportation from the northern edge of the Redoubt Soccer Complex to construct the project, according to the department. Within the soccer complex, generally from west to east, Field 7, its parking lot, Field 1, its parking lot and a portion of the 1-mile walking track are all located along the northern edge of the complex property near the construction area.

Access to Redoubt's soapbox derby track, soccer fields and parking lots would remain open during construction and there are no anticipated impacts to lighting, fencing or signs, according to the Department of Transportation. The plan for the walking track during construction is to detour 740 feet of it through a parking lot while it stays open to pedestrians.

Redoubt is managed by Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, which participated in vetting the proposed path.

County spokesperson Mike Dunne said local officials' goal in the proposed project "is no net loss of recreational opportunities," while the impact to the complex is expected to be "minimal."

Rominger said she was unaware of any plans to make any improvements at Redoubt if and when the widening project gets started.

"I haven't talked with the county about improvements that may or may not be done for Redoubt. If any improvements are planned, we can only hope for parking lot lighting in both lots. Lights would definitely help with some of the issues we've had in the past," Rominger said. "Not sure how, or if, traffic will be impacted yet. It may be a little more difficult to get across traffic but probably no more difficult than it currently is."

Dunne didn't say specifically whether any improvements were coming, but said "once the state finishes their work, we [Parks and Recreation Department] will work within the new parameters to create the best recreational opportunities for the complex's visitors."

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The proposed segment of work is part of a larger proposed project all the way to Highway 153 and there is at least one other segment of Bonny Oaks in the upcoming widening-project pipeline, according to the Department of Transportation's proposed plan for 2019-2021.

Listed as a No. 2 priority is a mile-long stretch between Bonnyshire Drive and Adamson Circle where a branch of the Hamilton County Clerk's Tag and Title Office and the University of Tennessee Extension Office is located.

A segment with no priority status attached is a 1.1-mile stretch from Adamson Circle to Industry Drive, according to the 2019-2021 program list. Much of that segment already is four or five lanes wide but some portions lack a center turn lane and sidewalks.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.

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