Transportation Commissioner: I-24/I-75 split considered "worst intersection" in state

(Image: TDOT Smartway Cameras)

Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer calls the intersection of Interstate 24 and Interstate 75 in Chattanooga "probably the worst intersection we got in the state at the moment," and says he's making fixing the issue a priority for his department.

NewsChannel 9 set out to find out what makes this stretch of road so dangerous.

"This right here has been a problem for TDOT for years of drivers who are making decisions and drivers are probably going a little too fast," said Stephen Meyer of the curve coming from I-75 near the Welcome Center.

Meyer owns Meyer Transportation Consultants, INC. in Chattanooga.

"It's just a lot of traffic concentrating on one location," said Meyer.

During morning rush hour and on the drive home from work, drivers describe the interchange with some choice words.

"A mess. A nightmare," said Mike Rau.

Schroer made the remarks while presenting his department's fiscal 2018-2019 budget presentation this week to Governor Bill Haslam.

You can watch his remarks here. Talk of the intersection begins at 19:30 in the clip.

Schroer says T-DOT hopes to have bids ready to advertise to contractors by the spring of 2018, with work scheduled to begin later in the summer. He estimates the cost of the project at $70 million.

And, he says, "if things go right," the project will take three years to finish.

The money for the I-24/I-75 split fix - which Schroer calls "one of the most expensive projects we will do" - comes from the IMPROVE Act, a bill signed by Governor Haslam back in April that raises the gas tax by 7 cents on the dollar to help pay for the projects. It's the first gas tax increase in the state since 1989, and will pay for 962 road projects across the state. Schroer says of those 962 projects, work has already begun for 288 of them, and completed for 10 of them (all bridge projects).

We asked T-DOT more about these projects.

Region 2 Community Relations Officer Jennifer Flynn tells us the I-24/I-75 interchange project will be done as a Design-Build project. Design-Build is a project method that combines all or parts of the design and construction phases of a project into a single contract.

Flynn says T-DOT should have the Design-Build team on board by the end of this year. The chosen team will take care of all the details of the project.

Flynn tells us that new bridges for Spring Creek Road, McBrien Road and Moore Road over I-24 as well as interstate bridges will be part of the project.

Key dates for firms seeking to file a letter of interest related to the I-24/I-75 interchange project are:

  • Sept. 26: Request for Letter of Interest posted
  • Oct. 24: Final Addendum to Letter of Interest due by 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 17: Letters of Interest packages submitted by 4 p.m.
  • Dec. 1: Short list of firms notified by 4 p.m.
  • Dec. 11: Proposal and Interviews from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Dec. 20: Final firm selection posted by 4 p.m.
  • July 2, 2018: Complete preliminary plans

Some key dates for the project in the coming year are:

  • April 27, 2018: Anticipated release of Request For Quotations
  • July 27, 2018: Anticipated release of final Request For Proposals
  • Oct. 19, 2018: Anticipated Public Price Proposal Opening set for 9 a.m.
  • Oct. 26, 2018: Anticipated award of design-building contract, or rejection of all
  • Nov. 2, 2018: Anticipated issuance of initial Notice to Proceed with the Project

The interstate split is not the only road project in Hamilton County the IMPROVE Act will pay for. Other local projects include:

  • Improving more than 10 miles of I-24, between the I-59 splits and Highway 27 (cost: $171 million).
  • $40 million to improve interchanges at Hamilton Place Mall.
  • Improving the interchange of I-24 at Market Street and Broad Street.
  • Adding a truck-climbing lane on I-75 at White Oak Mountain.

Read the full list of road projects paid for by the IMPROVE Act below:

Read the full Department of Transportation budget presentation below:

Depend on us to keep you posted on these road projects.

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