SR 60 Corridor Management Committee In Cleveland Expands Boundary To Bradley-Hamilton County Line

Friday, June 13, 2014

The committee formed to promote safety on State Route 60 is expanding its boundary to the Bradley-Hamilton County line.

The SR 60 Corridor Management Committee operates under a memorandum of understanding between the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Bradley County, city of Cleveland and Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

The overriding goal is to promote safe, efficient operation while enhancing and sustaining economic development and supporting environmental conservation along 18 miles of SR 60, commonly known as Dalton Pike and Georgetown Road, from the Georgia line to SR 306 (Eureka Road).

Committee Chairman Jon Sparkman, a Cleveland resident and professional engineer with Stantec in Chattanooga, said expanding the boundaries to the county line only makes sense. 

“I don’t see a compelling reason to not have it as part of what we are looking at,” he said. “It’s not to say that one size fits all because SR 60, north of SR 306 will have different issues because it is a rural stretch of the corridor. It will have a different set of issues than the portion going through town.”

The expanded boundary roughly overlays the SR 60 widening project from Eureka Road to Georgetown. Hamilton County could be invited to participate in the future as the widening project continues toward Highway 58. 

TDOT project manager Scott Medlin said, “You don’t want to confuse the project and the corridor management agreement. They are two separate entities.”

During a brief update of the SR 60 widening project, Mr. Medlin said the state had hoped to have the environmental document ready to send to the Federal Highway Administration the end of summer. After the Federal Highway Administration approves the environmental document, TDOT will release the final right of way plans.

Mr. Medlin said he is hopeful the federal agency will approve the environmental document in the early fall and meet with landowners in the late fall. Property owners will be informed by mail of the meeting time and place.

The state legislature has allocated funds to purchase the right of way, but it has not funded construction.

The committee is not a decision making body, but it could make recommendations for the participating members to consider. 

Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Economic Development Doug Berry said it is important to work with TDOT as land use patterns evolve as the widening project continues.

“It’s helpful to TDOT and to us in getting allocations over time to make the necessary improvements we need,” he said. “We’re basically communicating with them what we think the future pattern is going to be. I don’t see why, as a group, we would want to leave out a section of the route.” 

TDOT Long Range Planning Director Tanisha Hall said the state highway department is considering expanding the corridor management plan statewide.

“We see the benefits of people setting around the table and discussing the issues that impact the corridor that they drive on everyday and not just depending on us as a department to say ‘this is what’s going to happen,’” she said. 

Ms. Hall said that depending on the type of corridor, “when access management is applied, crashes are reduced between 30 and 60 percent. Capacities increase 20 to 40 percent and you can develop efficient roadways. Those are some of the things that can happen with well-accessed corridors and that impacts safety, economic development and congestion management.”

TDOT Community Transportation Planner Stacy Morrison explained the function and purpose of the SR 60 Corridor Management Committee. 

He said that in March 2010, the state began participating in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Policy Academy on Shaping a New Approach to Transportation and Land Use Planning. TDOT pitched the idea to city officials in July 2012. The organization began meeting quarterly in May 2013.

Planning prepares a community for growth by anticipating problems rather than dealing with them when they become major issues. Some of the committee’s stated goals are managing and coordinating roads and expanding regional mobility while preserving community character. Strategies to meet those goals include access management, land-use planning, and roadway design and capacity. 

Mr. Morrison spoke about access management, roadway design and capacity, traffic management and operations, and land use planning, which are four of the seven typical strategies used in corridor management. The most important strategy is traffic management because statistically, 55 percent of accidents occur at access points. Signal timing, Intelligent Traffic Systems, emergency responder technology, work zone management, trucks and freight management, traffic bottleneck removal and transportation studies fall under access management strategies.

Tools for implementing the strategies include plans, policies, codes, regulations, ordinances, standards, guiding documents, “and organization and coordination through meetings like this,” Mr. Morrison said.

TDOT Community Transportation Planner Kevin Herrit said traffic volume; spacing, design and operation of driveways, median openings and interchanges are part of the access management process. Access management affects noise, travel time and emissions. 

“When you are looking at how you would access a facility, all of these things come into play,” Mr. Herrit said.

Highway 60 is one of only two corridor management programs in the state. The other is S. R. 109 that runs through Sumner and Wilson counties. TDOT chose the two routes primarily because of a strong history of local planning and coordination with the state. 

The model was developed through grant funds from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. The pilot program is not attached to funding, but participants might have a better chance at receiving funds in the future.

The SR 60 Corridor Management Committee will consider extending membership to Cleveland and Bradley County school districts at the next meeting. The group generally meets quarterly in the Cleveland Municipal Building. In order to avoid conflicting with summer vacations, Sept. 10 was tentatively set as the next meeting date.

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