Work on 4 projects near Exit 20 continues

JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Posted 2/15/15

Improvements are still in the making as work continues on four interconnected projects near Exit 20 of Interstate 75.

The projects are in various stages, but when complete will connect roads to …

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Work on 4 projects near Exit 20 continues

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Improvements are still in the making as work continues on four interconnected projects near Exit 20 of Interstate 75.

The projects are in various stages, but when complete will connect roads to provide greater interstate access to residents and industries.

Those living near Pleasant Grove Church Road will have direct access to State Route 311 (APD 40), as will new industries when they locate at the Spring Branch Industrial Park.

Locals and travelers will also have a smoother time navigating Exit 20 when the current TDOT project is completed around November of this year.

Construction has begun on the new six-lane bridge for the exit. Lanes have been temporarily shifted during construction.

Improvements are being made to the traffic signal system to make it more efficient.

“If you are coming South bound and want to get on the bypass ,it will be free flow. If you are going back toward the Pilot (gas station), you have to stop at this red light. It spaces out the cars to where there will be a lane here where they can merge and it will be a whole lot nicer,” Development and Engineering director Jonathan Jobe said.

“The main safety reason TDOT is really looking at it is people getting off at 20 going north to Cleveland from Chattanooga. That was backing up into the Interstate. That’s a no-no. It’s a big safety project and a flow project for TDOT. … We all saw the need. It just wasn’t working.”

Those driving from Exit 20 onto the bypass (APD 40) will notice trees are being cleared for the second TDOT project in the area — the Mayor Tom Rowland Interchange. The project relocates a portion of Stone Lake Road and builds a bridge across the bypass, Jobe said.

“The project will construct a full diamond interchange bridge with ramps and auxiliary lanes between Interstate 75 (Exit 20) and State Route-2 (U.S. 11),” Jennifer Flynn, TDOT community relations officer, said

On the south side of the road, the Interchange will connect to the Local Interstate Connector South providing access to the Interstate for the future Spring Branch Industrial Park.

“The new State Route-311 Interchange will provide access for commercial and industrial developments located east of Interstate 75 and west of State Route-2 (U.S. 11). This interchange will serve a locally-developed industrial park for potential supplier businesses to serve Volkswagen, Wacker Polysilicon, and other local industries,” Flynn said.

The project is estimated to be completed in October 2016, according to Flynn.

“It opens up the industrial park for real easy Interstate access,” Jobe said.

This project was completed in May of last year.

Since getting access to APD 40 required a bridge across it, TDOT requires a road be built connecting on the north side.

Job said the bridge will be connected to Pleasant Grove Church Road as part of the Local Interstate Connector North project.

“We are widening this road and taking this curve out,” Jobe said referencing a sharp curve on Pleasant Grove Church Road on a map.

“Right now that curve is very dangerous … that way anyone who lives over in here can get on the bypass and get to the Interstate.”

Work on this connection road cannot begin until the necessary land agreements are worked out with current owners.

Jobe said his office is researching how much it would cost to “hire a firm to negotiate the right of way.”

Jobe said the land will need to be purchased for road right of way and monetary compensation determined for easements needed during the construction to get to the project.

The plan is to have the LIC North complete at the same time as the Mayor Tom Rowland Interchange.

Each of the Local Interstate Connectors were funded through state and local funds. Jobe said the state paid for half of the project, while the county and city each paid a fourth of the cost.

The north and south connection road projects were financed at the same level. However, they knew the north project was not going to cost as much as the south project. This provided needed funding when the south project came in over budget. Funds were moved from the north project to cover these additional costs.

Jobe said the north connector project is anticipated to come in within the remaining budget.

TDOT is calling these local connecting roads the Cherokee Gateway.

Although the Mayor Tom Rowland Interchange and Pleasant Grove Church Road will connect the residential area to a direct route to the industrial park, Jobe said it will not impact local traffic. Industrial traffic will be coming from the bypass not from the residential area.

In response to neighborhood requests, signs will be posted prohibiting industrial trucks and tractor-trailers on Bancroft Road.

Jobe said traffic from the industrial park would likely not want to use this road because of the steep grade of the road. The LIC south connector has a grade more conducive to industrial traffic.

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