Wednesday, August 8, 2012
The Tennessee Department of Transportation continues to make progress on the Highway 27 construction project slated to be complete October 2014.
Recent developments affecting drivers include the temporary closure until spring 2013 of the Manufacturers Road entrance ramp onto U.S. 27 North. The purpose of the ramp closure is to allow for the construction of several retaining walls and portions of the new bridges over the railroad and Manning Street.
TDOT decided to permanently close the Whitehall Road exit ramp from U.S. 27 North eight months ahead of schedule, said Jennifer Flynn, regional communications officer for TDOT. The construction of a new parking garage at The Pinnacle apartment building requiring residents to use the back entrance near the ramp caused safety concerns for the building owner, who requested the ramp be closed early.
“We agreed it would be a safety concern, and at their request we agreed to close it several months early,” said Flynn.
Joan Smith, a resident of the Woodland Heights neighborhood for 70 years, said she regularly traveled home from work using the Whitehall Road exit.
Even though she leaves work at 3:30 p.m. and misses the 5 p.m. rush hour, she said traffic still gets backed up.
“It’s a hassle. I feel like they should have left one of the exits open to our community,” said Smith. “We’re like a little forgotten town down there.”
She must now either take the Dayton Boulevard exit and turn around or the Manufacturers Road exit and go down Cherokee Boulevard to get home, she said.
“People who haven’t been over there in a while just get completely lost,” said Smith, as the area lacks marked detours.
“It’s an entirely new traffic pattern,” explained Flynn. “It’s not like it’s a temporary thing.”
Smith said getting to work takes at least 10 minutes longer, as she must now take Market Street to M.L. King Boulevard to get to the interstate.
She worries that the lack of easy access to the neighborhood may negatively affect her property value if she ever decides to sell her home.
“I guess we’re just going to have to live with it,” she said.
Flynn said the contractor will continue to close lanes weeknights within the project area to perform road work. They will also be working on retaining walls and bridges throughout the project area.
Detours are posted. During nighttime work, at least one lane will remain open in each direction. Tennessee Highway Patrol will assist with traffic control on the project as necessary.