I have been preaching this idea for a few years, along with some other citizens. Now, according to our local gazette, Jimmy White is taking up the cause. It didn't take long for him to figure this out. Must be a smart man with access to a lot of greenbacks and influence. Good for him.
Drivers have tolerated all kinds of hazards on I-24 over the last few months. It takes hours to clear the wrecks and traffic backs up to the Ridge Cut or to I-59. Actually, it backs up without an accident.
Traffic on 153 and 58 is unbearable at times. Enough said.
1. Build the Bypass around Chattanooga.
2. Connect 27 to Highway 58 and I-75
The plans for both of these projects are on someone's desk at TDOT, hidden under a pile of useless ideas submitted by one of the Three Stooges on how to fix the I-24 and I-75 malfunction junction.
The best way to Nashville is to drive 111 to Lewis Chapel, 8 to McMinnville and 70 to Murfreesboro, then to Nashville on 24. You can also stop by Fall Creek Falls on your way.
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Once upon a time, in another century, a guitar-picking visionary named Dalton Roberts planned a bypass. Afraid that Chattanooga would dry up and blow away if passing motorists didn't stop here for fuel and cigarettes, those who saw Chattanooga as nothing more than a filling station shot down his idea.
Not only do we badly need a bypass, we also badly need some more visionaries.
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The Chattanooga Bypass is a perennial topic, and many seem to think it would be a silver bullet for our traffic woes. Here are a few things to keep in mind when discussing a potential bypass:
The latest proposed regional loop (according to the Times Free Press) would start slightly north of Kimball, head east through Whitwell, Flat Top Mountain, Soddy Daisy, across the river to Cleveland, south through Apison to Ringgold, then west through Fort Oglethorpe, Flintstone, over or under Lookout Mountain, and finally end at the 24/59 split.
The total route length would be around 100 miles. According to the Federal Highway Administration a mile of new highway in mountainous terrain costs between $11M and $39M. This leads to a total project cost between $1B and $4B.
This route would also cut through several rural communities (many of which may want to remain rural) and natural areas.
Who would pay for this project? How would the money be recouped? Will the communities through which the route must pass get a say? How will our natural resources, one of the greatest highlights of East Tennessee living, be protected?
These are questions that need to be answered by anyone seriously proposing a bypass route.
These cost numbers are taken from Appendix A of the "Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance Report: 24th Edition"
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The state seems to be clueless understanding traffic in Chattanooga. A few simple things, though costly, would alleviate a lot of traffic problems. A bypass is not needed at this time.
For starters....leaving Chattanooga, I-24 ought to be three lanes at least to the Brown's Ferry exit and eventually three lanes all the way to Nashville. It would be difficult, but the East Ridge cut going up needs a fourth lane.
All the rework of the exits downtown seemed a waste of money to me. It was better when you could exit directly onto Main Street. It seems like they have spent a lot of money at the I-75 split and it is pretty much the same as it was. But, they are not finished yet.
Then, maybe a bypass through East Ridge or further south for eastbound I-24 to
Atlanta traffic. Maybe funnel traffic south on I-59 then cut over to Atlanta. Then maybe some southbound I-75 from Knoxville bypass.