Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance Releases State Route Maps To Encourage Drivers To "Take A Drive" On Secondary Roads And Highways

  • Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Thrive Regional Partnership joined the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance today in sharing alternative routes for drivers to use in traveling in and around the Greater Chattanooga Region.

As a part of the celebration and history around "100 Years of Road Funding", led by the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance, drivers are being encouraged to "Take a Drive" by utilizing state routes and highways instead of interstates for daily commuting. In addition to the alternative routes in and around Chattanooga, county maps have been released, illustrating the state routes in each of Tennessee's 94 other counties.

With the potential to greatly improve quality of life, fuel efficiency, and decrease hauled freight delivery time, commuters across the 16 county Thrive Region which spans Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee are being encouraged to test out five core routes that provide alternatives to the Greater Chattanooga interstates. 

Five core routes that have the potential to benefit drivers across the Thrive Region include: 

US Highway 321 & State Route 320: Ooltewah to Ringgold & Ooltewah to Downtown

State Route 58:  Downtown Chattanooga to Ooltewah through Decatur to I-40 at Kingston
State Route 318:  St.
Elmo/Lookout Mtn. through Wildwood GA to I-59 near Trenton
State Route 111 to Cookeville & to State Route 8:  Cleveland through McMinnville to I-24 in Manchester
US Highway 411:  Maryville TN to I-75 near Cartersville, North of Marietta/Atlanta
"Recognizing the challenges drivers often encounter while traveling the interstates in Chattanooga, we saw an opportunity to promote these alternative routes to assist drivers in getting off the interstate," said Susie Alcorn, executive director of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance. "Alternative routes inherently provide beautiful scenery and a more peaceful experience while avoiding the ever-increasing interstate traffic that rides atop Chattanooga's unique topography."

Growth in Tennessee and the southeastern region is noticeable on the interstate system both related to private travel and to freight traffic. In particular, Tennessee's interstate system was designed when the population was approximately 3 million and today Tennessee's population hovers just over 7 million with more people relocating here daily.

Chattanooga traffic congestion and bottlenecks are commonplace occurrences that regional drivers know to expect. The motoring public is often experiencing very slow or standstill traffic, encountering significant delays while traveling interstate systems across the Greater Chattanooga area in addition to the other urban areas in Tennessee.

In 2018, Bridgett Massengill, President and CEO of Thrive Regional Partnership led efforts to begin a campaign to encourage commuters across the region to utilize backroads to help alleviate common bottlenecks experienced throughout the Greater Chattanooga interstate system, recognizing that increased population and industry would continue to increase commutes.

“The upcoming holiday weekend surrounding Memorial Day presents the perfect opportunity for folks across the Thrive Region to discover and test scenic routes that help them not only get to enjoy a long weekend with less stress, but to prepare for summer travel volumes,” Bridgett Massengill said, “By charting the best routes for their commute to work, school, and outdoor activities, road travelers can take advantage of this weekend to spice up their routine and help improve region-wide navigation flow.”

Not all scenic routes are graded to support the weight restrictions, height limitations, or daily use of heavy truck volumes, though all should be able to handle that of regular commuter vehicles and some short-haul trucks. 

The Port of Savannah, billed as the fastest-growing container terminal in the U.S., handled a record 5.9 million TEUs (Twenty Equipment Units) in 2022 for an increase of 5% over 2021.

Federal freight analysis data tells us more than 39 million tons of freight were expected to flow through Chattanooga's urban core in 2022.

Connie Vaughan, the Government Relations manager for McKee Foods and the Chair of Thrive Regional Partnership is encouraging commuters to help support our local economy by creating space on interstates for our short and long-haul trucks to maximize efficiency for transport and delivery of materials and goods that are needed to keep companies, communities, and citizens going strong. 

“I am proud to support the efforts of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance as they encourage commuters to try out alternate routes, which in turn could also increase the efficiency of our freight movement, while protecting our hardworking professional truck drivers from logging wasted hours sitting in standstill traffic,” Connie Vaughan said, “When we stop to reflect upon the original intent of our Federal Interstate System to support our military efforts and transportation of supplies, the natural evolution for 18 wheelers to utilize the available infrastructure makes total sense. If you think about it–it's not trucks clogging up our interstate system, but commuters who are bogging down our trucks.”

“During my very enjoyable and peaceful drives through State Route 8, and Highway 11, as interstate alternatives–I hope I get to see friends and neighbors out on our beautiful scenic routes with their windows rolled down and radio turned up–breathing in the fresh air of the Thrive Region,” Connie Vaughan said.

In recent years, both Georgia and Tennessee have increased the sustainable funding for their transportation systems. Earlier this year, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee introduced the Transportation Modernization Act which was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly. In both states, interstate enhancements are anticipated.

Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance has dubbed “100 Years of Road Funding” as both a celebration and a history project wrapped into one. Citizen engagement is encouraged through three core initiatives as described on Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance’s online platform, www.100YearsOfRoadFunding.com, that encourages Tennessee road users to: “Tell a Story”, “Take a Drive”, and “Share an Image”. The main point is that our road system today developed as a result of Tennessee having sustainable funding for the 100 years since 1923 when the 63rd General Assembly approved the user fee promoted by Governor Austin Peay.

Upon completion of the year-long celebration, submitted images, historical news articles, along with road trip and road creation stories will be packaged in digital format and offered to historical offices, public libraries, and/or the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
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