Nothing is more frustrating than inching along a congested highway. Now in the final year of Governor Bredesen's administration, TDOT is including a number of major improvements designed to alleviate some of the worst tie-ups in the state in the 2010-2013 three year multimodal transportation program.
The department has undertaken a series of "corridor studies" to determine the best mix of initiatives to relieve congestion. Studies have been completed for the I-40, I-81 and -75 corridors, and similar studies will be conducted for the I-65 and I-24 corridors.
One of TDOT's key components in combating congestion is the SmartWay system of traffic cameras and HELP trucks. With systems in place in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, we will officially launch a new SmartWay Traffic Management Center in Chattanooga later this year. The Nashville SmartWay system, now seven years old, is undergoing an upgrade to be completed this year. Camera feeds to the facility are being switched to faster fiber optic lines and more traffic cameras are being added.
TDOT is also targeting congestion through infrastructure improvements. A number of road projects to relieve major bottlenecks will move to construction in the next three years. Widening one of Tennessee's busiest tourism corridors, State Route 66 in Sevier County, is already underway. Broken into three phases, the funding is now in place to improve the entire route with the last project getting underway in 2012-2013.
In the Chattanooga area, crews will widen U.S. 27 this fiscal year to address traffic tie-ups near the Tennessee River. Just north in Bradley County a new interchange on Interstate 75 at State Route 311 is planned for 2012-2013.
In Nashville, TDOT will work to ease congestion on I-440 East from Nolensville Road to the I-24 interchange. Crews will extend an additional lane to provide afternoon commuters more room on the road.
Meanwhile, along the busy I-65 corridor, two widening projects are planned. Additional lanes on I-65 south of Nashville from State Route 96 to the Goose Creek interchange will begin this fall, while north of Nashville a widening project between Trinity Lane and Dickerson Road will begin in 2011-2012.
In Memphis, crews will widen a busy portion of I-240 from Poplar Avenue to Walnut Grove this fiscal year and work to improve the I-40 interchange at Canada Road will begin next fiscal year (2011-2012).
TDOT's strategy to combat congestion across the state also includes significant investments in transit agencies and shortline railways and bridges. Tennessee provides transit funding to transit agencies across the state to maintain and improve their service.
Improving the movement of more people and freight can help reduce the amount of cars and trucks traveling our interstates and state routes. While it might be impossible to eliminate congestion entirely, TDOT will continue identifying areas where improvement is possible and focus our efforts on projects that will keep Tennesseans in motion.