Interstate 75 Exit 20 will be named after Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks in honor of the former legislator’s multi-year effort to secure funding for a new bridge, as well as improvements and …
Interstate 75 Exit 20 will be named after Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks in honor of the former legislator’s multi-year effort to secure funding for a new bridge, as well as improvements and modifications to the existing ramp.
The news was announced by former Mayor Tom Rowland during a Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Wednesday at the Municipal Building.
The legislation – House Bill 1523 – bill was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2016 and directed the Tennessee Department of Transportation to erect signage marking the exit as the "Representative Kevin Brooks Interchange." However, the directive stipulated that the naming of the exit for Brooks would not take effect until after he had left office.
Brooks was sworn in Monday as mayor, previously serving for 12 years in the Tennessee House of Representatives and representing the 24th District. Brooks resigned from his House seat the same day he was sworn in as mayor.
He also serves as chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Commission. This was his first chairing of the meeting since his swearing in, replacing Rowland, who had chaired the board since its inception in 2003.
“The governor has signed the bill, and we can put up the signs,” Rowland said.
The news was welcomed by Brooks, who was renowned for wearing a name tag emblazoned with "Mr. Exit 20" as he made the rounds in the Tennessee Department of Transportation offices in Nashville to gain support for the project.
Brooks told the Cleveland Daily Banner that he was pleased with the news. He recalled a day when he helped rake the concrete during the construction phase of the project.
“I wanted to tell my kids that I had helped build it,” Brooks said. “So I put on a vest and hardhat and helped rake the concrete.”
He also recalled a humorous incident that happened as a Cleveland Banner reporter was photographing him.
“He was backing up and taking photos and stepped in concrete,” Brooks said. “He lost his balance and the other foot sunk in the concrete. His legs were buried up to 18 inches. The guys on the site all started laughing.”
Brooks said construction workers had to hose the reporter off before he could get into his car to return to the newsroom.
The $36 million project, which added east and westbound lanes, also consisted of redesigning ramps to accommodate more traffic. The area now hosts the presence of the 330-acre Spring Branch Industrial Park, where construction is expected to be completed soon.
In addition, several hotel chains have expressed interest in locating near the exit; however, city officials have so far declined to name the hotels.
The Exit 20 area was also Erlanger Health System's choice to construct a freestanding emergency room. That fell through when a state regulatory board denied Erlanger’s request to build the facility, stating that the healthcare provider's presence in the region would disrupt the orderly system of healthcare already provided in the area.
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