New frontage roads, multiple walls, and a wider footprint separating downtown Chattanooga from the old Cameron Hill section will be hallmarks of a major reworking of the downtown freeway to straighten it and add traffic lanes.
Work is set to start on the $80 million project soon after work is completed on the $108 million redo of the hilly section between the Olgiati Bridge and Signal Mountain Boulevard in early 2015.
One new frontage road will parallel the freeway on the Cameron Hill side going from Fourth Street, over Sixth Street, past the MLK intersection and then onto the southbound lanes of U.S. 27.
Another new frontage road on the downtown side will go from the MLK Boulevard exit over Sixth Street, and on to Fourth Street and then to an access point on the northbound lane of the freeway near AT&T Field.
It will be a different way to access the freeway for those coming from downtown heading east. There will no longer be a southbound on ramp at Fourth Street. The new access will be to go under the freeway at Fourth Street, then go left on the new frontage road, over Sixth Street, through the MLK intersection, and then merge on the freeway's southbound lanes.
Traffic coming from downtown will also be able to access U.S. 27 south by way of Seventh Street to Chestnut Street, then left on Sixth Street to the frontage road, TDOT officials said.
Going from the current four to six travel lanes to six to eight travel lanes and straightening out the curve near the Olgiati Bridge will take another chunk out of Cameron Hill. There will be a wall 60 feet high by the new frontage road at the foot of the hill at the Blue Cross Blue Shield complex.
The project will feature 25 other walls.
Right-of-way acquisition is currently underway on the project, and agents are currently appraising and acquiring the properties necessary to construct the project. It is estimated that they will complete this by next spring 2014
Current estimates are that there are 22 tracts of land affected with two business relocations required.
The 1.4-mile project has been included in the TDOT 2014-16 Multimodal Program to receive funding for construction in Fiscal Year 2015.
Also, a new lane in each direction will be added on the Olgiati Bridge. In anticipation of this work, the necessary bridge supports are already in place.