The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s HELP program is growing. TDOT was awarded a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant that will allow the department to add more HELP Operators and trucks, as well as expand the routes of the HELP program in West, Middle, and East Tennessee.
“In the 15 plus years our HELP trucks have been on the road, they have proven to be an invaluable resource for TDOT, other first responders, and the traveling public,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “Expanding the program will help us maximize the efficiency of our transportation system and better serve the citizens of our state.”
The expansion of the HELP program will occur in phases, with the Chattanooga area being first. Three additional operators and trucks have been added, bringing the total number in the Chattanooga area to 17. The expansion route was deployed on June 1, 2016. One additional route was added on I-24 west of Chattanooga to the TN/GA stateline on I-24 to Exit 169 in Georgia, a distance of 9.0 miles. This extends service on this corridor where ADT is in excess of 70,000 vehicles per day.
In the Jackson area, six new operators and trucks are being added, increasing the total to 25. The expansion routes could be deployed as early as August 1, 2016 and they are:
· I-40 and I-55 Mississippi River Crossings
· Additional HELP truck on the I-240 Loop (some sections in excess of 150,000 ADT)
The Nashville area will get nine additional operators and trucks, bringing the total number to 33. The expansion routes are currently estimated for deployment on or before September 1, 2016. The three expansion routes are:
· I-24 east of Nashville, from Exit 57 (Harding Place) to Exit 78 (SR-96) in Murfreesboro - two additional routes (additional 23 miles)
· I-65 south of Nashville, from Exit 78 (Harding Place) to Exit 65 (SR-96) - one additional route (13 miles)
In the Knoxville area, three additional operators and trucks will be added, bringing the total to 17. The expansion route is estimated to be deployed in 2017. One additional route will be added to extend approximately 4.0 miles on I-40 west of Knoxville from mile 373 to mile 369 (Watt Road) and an additional 4.0 miles east of town to Exit 398 (Strawberry Plains Pike). This extends service on this corridor where ADT is in excess of 104,000 near the existing route, to 72,000 vehicles per day near Exit 398.
As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go! by checking travel conditions before leaving for your destination. Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.