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Hwy. 58 project funding reduced

A much anticipated traffic enhancement project including new sidewalks, a bike path, additional lighting and public transportations shelters that has been in the works for more than a decade is finally in progress on Highway 58.

However, the project that originally proposed $3 million in funding only received $1 million for the first phase that extends from Jersey Pike to Webb Road, and local leaders are unsure of how or when the second two phases will be funded.

“Unfortunately, the new transportation legislation that was passed does not provide for the same dedicated funding source as we are going to see previously for those same types of programs,” said Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency representative Melissa Taylor.

Originally, funding for the project that will span from Jersey Pike to the Bonny Oaks greenway and include sidewalks on Oakwood Drive was expected to be paid for through a federal program that was regularly awarding amounts in excess of $2 million. Now that funding is provided through a regional Transportation Planning Organization and amounts are usually closer to the $700,000 benchmark, said Taylor.

“We’re just operating under slightly different circumstances,” she said. “We may need to scale back portions of the project and they may get scheduled and funded in smaller portions. It could be maybe five phases instead of three phases. All that is dependent on the project being selected through taking applications from all the jurisdictions that would hope to submit on these types of projects.”

In addition to the traffic enhancements that will predominately benefit local pedestrians and cyclists, Arcadis engineer Clint Butler who is working on the project said a pocket park at the corner of Webb Road is also part of the project. He said he is optimistic about construction starting on the project this summer, with an expected construction period of around six months.

“Fortunately we’re a pretty good ways through the process with TDOT,” he said. “We’re hoping to start construction late summer of this year. We hope to let the project out for bid in July or August and hope to start construction in the August or September time frame.”

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