For those who have dreamed of having a quicker trip across town, the Northwest Connector Route might be a dream come true.

On Sept. 27, the Tennessee Department of Transportation held a public hearing concerning the new route, which begins at Hwy. 70 W, near the Cumberland County Playhouse, and ends near the BP gas station on Genesis Road.

According to TDOT representatives, the project is intended to "provide access, improve traffic flow and capacity, relieve traffic congestion, and to improve roadway deficiencies."

The 4.5-mile roadway will consist of three sections. The first section, beginning at Hwy. 70 W, cutting through some farm land, and ending at Hwy. 70 N, has an estimated cost of $4.8 million and runs about 1.9 miles in length. Right-of-way activities for this section are said to begin in 2008.

The second section begins at Hwy. 70 N and runs to US-127 near the Dickey's Barbeque Pit and Ryan's. With a $5.7 million estimated cost, this section has an approximate length of one mile. The increase in expense is on account of its planned closed drainage system as opposed to having ditches like section one.

Design speeds are set at 50 mph for section one and 40 mph for section two.

According to Robin Lovett, TDOT design consultant for sections one and two, section one will consist of three lanes, with a center left-turn lane; section two will be a five-lane section, having two lanes in each direction with a center left-turn lane. Lovett said appoximately 36 acres of right-of-way area will be needed for sections one and two.

The city has already approved right-of-way plans to begin, meaning property acquisitions can begin. The city is responsible for the acquisition for sections one and two. Once the city acquires all the necessary right-of-way, TDOT will begin scheduling the project and determining funding, according to Lovett.

Section three begins at the intersection of North Main Street (Hwy. 127) and Interstate Drive and ends at Genesis Road near the BP gas station, according to George Fowler, TDOT design consultant for section three. Section three will match section two in having five lanes, including a center left-turn lane, which means Interstate Drive will have to be widened.

Running just more than 1.5 miles, section three has a design speed of 40 mph. The right-of-way will take up five acres and no relocation will take place, according to Fowler. Right-of-way acquistion is estimated to begin early 2009 with construction contracting beginning in early 2010.

Lovett said TDOT began plans for the project in 2001, and in 2003, the department acknowledged the need for the project. By 2005, preliminary designs began and the city of Crossville and TDOT agreed to fund various surveys. In June 2007, an environmental assessment of the project was approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

Overall, the project will have no severely harmful effects on the area's environment, said Betty Parnell, TDOT environmental division representative. The construction will result in the relocation of two residential dwellings and four businesses. According to Parnell, a total of 10 streams, including the Obed River, five wet-weather conveyances, and 15 potential wetlands were identified. The construction of bridges and culverts, or the expansion of existing ones, is expected to take place.

Comments may be mailed to Project Comments, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Suite 700, James K. Polk Building, 505 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN 37243.

Recommended for you