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A new ramp set to open Friday morning is expected to provide some relief to motorists caught in traffic bottlenecks at Chattanooga's "Split" at Interstate 75 and Interstate 24.

The interchange improvement project where the highways converge near the Tennessee-Georgia line is nearing completion, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, with the new ramp configuration set to open access to northbound lanes of I-75 and westbound lanes of I-24 from the Welcome Center and the northbound side of U.S. Highway 41/Ringgold Road.

For years now, traffic during morning and afternoon commutes has snarled as drivers attempted to cross multiple lanes to get where they were going. It's served to make "The Split" one of the most dangerous and disliked interchanges in the country.

Times Free Press reader Earl Miller put it simply in a Facebook comment last month: "The left to go right and right to go left is moronic."

Fellow commenter Paul Wright agreed. "The northbound merge at Exit 1 is terrifying!"

TDOT spokeswoman Rae-Anne Bradley told the Times Free Press on Thursday that the new ramps "will eliminate the weave movement for motorists entering I-75 north from Ringgold Road and the Welcome Center."

"It is really going to help alleviate those weaving motions and is going to make it much easier for motorists to get on the interstate and go on the route they're traveling," she added.

Beginning Friday at 7 a.m., motorists traveling to I-75 northbound will be able to merge onto the main roadway past Chickamauga Creek. Those headed to I-24 west "will now have the ability to merge onto the ramp to I-24 at Exit 2 without entering I-75 mainline traffic," Bradley said.

New overhead signs will help to direct motorists. The speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph throughout the interchange.

"Be aware that GPS guidance systems for these new ramp movements may not yet be updated," stated a Thursday morning TDOT news release. "Please follow overhead signs, traffic control devices and temporary message boards."

TDOT warned that the shift is weather-dependent, and should inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances delay the work, it will be rescheduled to take place as soon as possible.

Marietta, Georgia-based C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., is the contractor on the $133 million project, which started in spring 2019 and consists of widening existing roads and ramps, increasing the radius of ramps, reconfiguring entrance and exit ramps on I-75, shifting the interchange to the west and modifying the Tennessee Welcome Center area traffic circulation.

The project includes new bridges for Spring Creek Road over I-24, as well as interstate bridges throughout the interchange area.

Contact Colin M. Stewart at 423-757-6366 or cstewart@timesfreepress.com.

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