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TDOT tweaks Hwy. 27 plans to alleviate traffic

State transportation officials say they will try a few tweaks to relieve traffic at U.S. Highway 27 and Signal Mountain Road, but residents still will have to deal with delays until the ramp is complete at the end of March.

Backed-up traffic at the Signal Mountain Road exit has snarled the daily northbound rush hour for thousands of motorists on U.S. 27 since a new permanent exit ramp opened Jan. 26.

After complaints from local officials and residents, Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said last week that the state is working with Chattanooga officials to adjust traffic signal timing at the bottom of the new ramp. Police will direct traffic at peak hours. And TDOT will move a retaining wall and adjust the top of the exit ramp from U.S. 27 to add a de-acceleration lane, making leaving the highway “less abrupt,” he said.

He hopes that will get Signal Mountain-bound drivers off the highway more smoothly, which will allow other traffic to keep moving.

Officials expect the traffic woes to be gone once the ramp is complete, because there will be two lanes leading to Signal Mountain Road and a longer exit lane, Schroer said.

“During this next few months, it might be helpful for drivers [exiting toward Signal Mountain] to take the next exit up, Morrison Springs Road, to Mountain Creek Road,” said Ken Flynn, the Region 2 director of operations.

Dayton Boulevard’s exit will be closed until July while workers remove and replace the ramp’s bridge.

The overall project to widen U.S. 27 and redo interchanges at Signal Mountain Road, Dayton Boulevard and Manufacturers Road will not be complete until February 2015.

TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said an estimated 29,000 drivers use the Signal Mountain Road exit ramp daily. But those numbers are from 2012 and do not include traffic detoured from the closed Dayton Boulevard exit. The U.S. 27 corridor itself sees about 65,000 drivers a day, she said.

“You can see from these numbers why the challenge of this particular phase of construction is so great,” she said.