MPO top priority still I-75 Exit 33 ramps

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 11/7/19

Members of the Cleveland Urban Area Municipal Planning Organization voted unanimously Wednesday for a slight shuffling of priorities for state projects in 2021.The approval came despite a …

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MPO top priority still I-75 Exit 33 ramps

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Members of the Cleveland Urban Area Municipal Planning Organization voted unanimously Wednesday for a slight shuffling of priorities for state projects in 2021.

The approval came despite a near-unanimous recommendation from the Technical Coordinating Committee earlier in the morning, and a recommendation from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The state, and committee, preferred the 1-2-3 ranking remain as it was last year.

That ranking had the No. 1 priority being the expansion of interstate ramps off Interstate 75 at Lauderdale Memorial Highway (State Route 308).

This No. 1 priority remains the same in the MPO's approval Wednesday, as well as the state and committee's recomendations.

The switch is with the No. 2 and No. 3 priorities.

The switch is a suggestion from Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, with the motion being made by Bradley County Planner Bentley Thomas. Davis was unable to attend Wednesday's gathering.

The previous No. 3 priority was the widening of North Lee Highway to five lanes, from Anatole subdivision north to Lauderdale Highway at the traffic light entering the city of Charleston.

The No. 2 priority was the widening of Georgetown Road to three lanes from Eureka Road (State Route 306), near Hopewell School, to State Route 58 in Hamilton County.

Both projects are in the county, but Davis feels the North Lee work should be a higher priority.

Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks agreed with Davis' assessment, and seconded Thomas' motion. Voting with Thomas and Brooks were Cleveland Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, Mary Lynn Brown of the Southeast Tennessee Human Resource Agency and Andrea Noel of TDOT.

Noel did say TDOT's recommendation to retain the Georgetown Road project at No. 2 was because that widening is expected to take less time than the North Lee Highway widening.

Estimated cost of the Interstate 75 ramp improvements at Lauderdale Highway is $3 million. The North Lee widening is estimated at $19.4 million, while the Georgetown widening is $4 million.

The Georgetown work is Phase 2 of the Georgetown Road project, extending beyond Phase 1, which is the road figuration and widening  from the interstate at 25th Street North, in front of both Cleveland Middle and the new Candy's Creek Cherokee Elementary schools.

The MPO also approved a recommendation for adoption of the 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program ( TIPs).

Among these proposals are reconstruction of 20th Street and Michigan Avenue roads,  road widening and a roundabout on Adkisson Drive, a Cleveland/Chattanooga commute hub, Cleveland Ridershare Program, Cleveland/Chattanooga connecting service, Gaut Street area sidewalks and bus stops, transit operations, transit capital purchases, sidewalks on 25th Street and Peerless Road N.W., resurfacing of Paul Huff Parkway from Georgetown Road to North Lee Highway, signal upgrades on Paul Huff, and a bicycle/pedestrian phase for the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway.

Another state project destined for the future is the widening of Interstate 75 from Exit 20 South to the Hamilton County line.

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