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Planned bridge work on Hwy. 70 W. has led city officials to recommend prohibiting left turns from Sparta Dr. at Miller Ave. during the closures that could occur in 2022.

Crossville officials are bracing for the impact of planned bridge improvements on Hwy. 70 W. and Hwy. 70 N. 

“[Tennessee Department of Transportation] detours use the opposing bridges,” City Engineer Tim Begley told the Crossville City Council during its April 6 work session. “We have modified their approval letters stating both closures can’t occur at the same time.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has advised the two bridges over the Obed River will need to be completely closed during the work, with plans in place to reroute traffic. 

Jennifer Flynn, spokesperson for TDOT, said both projects are still in development. The bridge on Hwy. 70 W. could be put out for bids at the end of 2021, while the Hwy. 70 N. bridge would not be put out for bids until fall the following year.

Begley said the bridges may have traffic reduced to one lane at times, but would be closed to traffic completely for a period of time during the projects. TDOT will give the city two week’s notice before closing either bridge.

While the detour plans for the Hwy. 70 W. bridge closure call for rerouting traffic through the Northwest Connector from Hwy. 70 W. to Hwy. 70 N. Begley said the city should take action to alleviate traffic tie-ups at Sparta Dr. and Miller Ave.

“That’s hard enough to pull out now, and we’re going to get a lot more traffic,” Begley said. “The Northwest Connector will get the out-of-town traffic, but you’re still going to get people from Holiday Hills and the Gardens that are going to try to go the shortest route, which will be Old Sparta Dr.”

He recommended restricting left turns at the intersection, known as Five Points, for the duration of the bridge closure. 

Begley said he would ask TDOT to close that left turn lane on Sparta Dr. at Miller Ave. at their expense, but if not, the city should move forward with closing it.

“It would end up saving us money versus fire department and police time for traffic accidents,” he said.

City Manager Greg Wood also recommended the city police department increase its speed enforcement in the area of Deerfield Dr., which connect the residential areas around Lake Holiday to Tenth St.

The council also approved closing Sweeney Dr. between Genesis Rd. and Stout Dr. to accommodate the development of the Buc-ee’s location planned for the area. Crossville Inc., on the adjoining property, has declined its half of the road right-of-way, so the property would be added to the Buc-ee’s site.

The move would close an access road just south of the I-40 exit ramp on Genesis Rd.

“It’s not a very safe intersection on Genesis Rd., especially for people exiting and trying to turn left,” Begley told the council. The intersection does not have a traffic signal.

“I think this road has outlived its usefulness,” he continued.

The city will also be moving forward with construction of the third phase of the Northwest Connector, improving Interstate Dr. from Genesis Rd. to Hwy. 127. That project, scheduled to begin this year, includes adding a traffic signal at Stout Dr.

“That’s that safest direction to send the traffic,” Begley said.

The council also approved donating approximately 1 acre of property owned by the city to the fuel center. Referred to as the “water tank property,” the site would provide Bucee’s with greater visibility from Interstate 40.

Begley said the property had some water lines on it and a maintenance building previously used by Hilltoppers before it relocated. Bucee’s will remove the building.

“We have some upgrades to the waterline we plan on doing in the next 60 days in that area. It’s going to clean that piece of property up as far as the plumbing that went with the water tank,” Begley said.

The council’s action to donate the property sparks a 30-day advertisement period before it takes effect.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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