Thursday, September 27, 2012
As the East Hamilton community continues to grow, local officials are working to implement infrastructure necessary to keep up with and facilitate a denser population of businesses and residents in the area.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation is in various phases of work on several projects in the area, including the widening of Apison Pike, the widening of East Brainerd Road and a Bonny Oaks Drive improvement project that will help accommodate and facilitate increased traffic in the area.
“The next phase of Apison Pike development is from the [Exit 9] interchange to Ooltewah-Ringgold Road,” said TDOT regional communications officer Jennifer Flynn. “It’s about two miles and it has been funded for right-of-way acquisition.”
According to her, TDOT is currently in the process of acquiring additional land along the roadway that will accommodate the widening project, which, once finished, will comprise two lanes traveling in each direction, a continuous turn lane, bike lanes on each side of the roadway and sidewalks.
She said TDOT officials are conducting a preliminary inspection before they begin working with independent appraisers who will conduct a market study on the area. After that work has been completed, a right-of-way meeting will take place, ideally sometime in November, she said.
“This meeting will not be a public meeting, but instead each of the affected property owners will receive an invitation to attend,” explained Flynn. “At this meeting, final right-of-way plans will be available for viewing and right-of-way [TDOT] representatives will be available to answer questions and discuss what the property owners can expect from the right-of-way process.”
Construction related to the actual road widening could begin as soon as the fourth quarter of 2013. Flynn said she anticipates the entire project will take at least two years to complete from that point. During the construction, she said TDOT will work to maintain a high level of service on the road and she does not anticipate any closures resulting in flaggers.
“We won’t cut off access to businesses and we will do all that we can to make sure we are being good partners and good neighbors,” said Flynn.
According to her, traffic projections suggest an estimated 33,000 vehicles will travel on the widened road daily by 2035.
The third phase of the Apison Pike widening project that will stretch down Ooltewah-Ringgold Road from Apison Pike to East Brainerd Road has been funded for preliminary design, Flynn said. A public forum regarding those plans is tentatively planned for the first quarter of 2013, with actual construction slated for 2015 or 2016, she said.
East Brainerd Road
TDOT is also moving forward with a plan to widen East Brainerd Road to four lanes with a continuous turn lane from Graysville Road to Bel-Air Road. According to Flynn, right-of-way acquisition for this project is nearly complete.
She said TDOT plans to host an informational meeting Nov. 1 from 5-7 p.m. at East Hamilton School to refresh the public’s memory on what’s happening on that project and discuss what locals can expect as the project progresses.
Bonny Oaks Drive
A project to improve Bonny Oaks Drive has been funded for preliminary design, but Flynn said right-of-way acquisition or construction funds have not yet been allocated.
“As the preliminary engineering phase develops, there will be opportunities for public input at an environmental public hearing, but it has not been scheduled yet,” she said. “This hearing could be held as early as next summer.”
In the meantime, Flynn said the state is working with the county to find alternative methods of traffic mitigation that will ideally relieve some of the traffic on the thoroughfare.
“TDOT is currently working with both the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County on the development of a state industrial access road serving Volkswagen Group of America,” she said. “Once constructed, the road may take some of the industry-related vehicles off the main road to allow more space for everyday drivers. The project could go to construction as early as spring 2013. Once construction starts, it should take 12 to 15 months to complete.”
She said the state and county are also working with TDOT to make improvements to the intersection of Bonny Oaks Drive and Volkswagen Drive and that of Volkswagen Drive and Discovery Drive. Those improvements could begin as soon as early 2014, Flynn said.
For more information about roadwork in the area visit www.tdot.state.tn.us.