The public has one more week to comment on the state's Interstate 75 study before transportation officials finalize suggestions to improve the heavily congested road, officials said Tuesday night.
"This isn't going to solve all the problems," said Terry Gladden, with the Tennessee Department of Transportation's long-range planning division. "(But) if we don't take an overall look, we can't prioritize where to spend money."
After a year of gathering information and three public meetings last month throughout the state, the transportation department is wrapping up its I-75 corridor study next week.
Originally, state officials were accepting public opinion only through the first week in October, but for several reasons including greater interest they extended the time until Monday, Mr. Gladden said.
Mr. Gladden and officials with Kimely-Horn and Associates, consultants for the study, were back in Chattanooga Tuesday for a private meeting hosted by Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, after speaking at a public meeting last month.
"We have (had) a lot of interest," Rep. Favors said. "(I) still have people calling and wanting to know about it."
She said she wanted East Hamilton area residents to have the opportunity to give their input on I-75 problems and to hear the proposed solutions herself, since she couldn't attend the first meeting.
WAYS TO APPROACH PROBLEM
* No-build solution
* Roadway capacity (widening the lanes)
* Corridor capacity (adding alternative routes)
* Freight diversion
* Operational solutions
Source: Interstate 75 study
Kimely-Horn and Associates officials offered five approaches to solutions for residents to comment on either by writing down suggestions at the meeting or sending an e-mail to TDOT.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The I-75 study covers 160 miles from the Georgia line near Chattanooga to the Kentucky line, but officials outlined specific areas to fix at Chattanooga, including widening the road in the worst traffic areas or adding an alternative corridor to relieve some of the main congestion.
Of the 15 residents who attended the meeting Tuesday, a few who spoke out against the alternative corridor idea were concerned it could take tourists from the city if traffic no longer flowed through downtown, and that the plans were too ambiguous.
But Mr. Gladden said this study only is supposed to identify the problem areas.
"That's why it's so important we get input," he said.