TDOT Approves Citizen Group’s Recommendation

Wed September 14, 2005 - Southeast Edition

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will go forward with the recommendations recently submitted to the department by a Citizens Resource Team (CRT) charged with studying improvements for U.S. 127-South. The project area includes U.S. 127-South (SR-28), from Cleveland Street in Crossville to SR-68, for a length of 3.71 mi. in Cumberland County.

“The citizens involved in this effort contributed a great deal of time and energy in working with TDOT planners to review the safety, accessibility and capacity improvements needed for U.S. 127-South,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “I have reviewed the team’s recommendations and believe the design submitted by the team is the best option because it retains the triangular shape of the historic district intersection at U.S. 127-South and State Route 68, while providing a safe and efficient roadway for motorists.”

He said this is the second decision the department has made on a project involving a CRT. The first involved improvements to U.S. 321 at Gatlinburg. In that case all of the CRT’s recommendations were also approved and are already being implemented.

“We owe our gratitude to the people who are investing their time on these teams around the state for the sake of their communities,” Nicely added. “It’s not an easy job and they should be commended.”

“The process wasn’t easy but it worked. We met frequently with the Citizens Resource Team and TDOT staff to achieve a plan that would maintain community values, recognize the historic significance within the Cumberland Homesteads District and recommend a sound and safe highway design,” said Sen. Charlotte Burks. “Now we can all move forward with confidence that the right decision has been made for the right reasons.”

In spring 2003, Bredesen and Nicely targeted 15 of the state’s most controversial road projects for re-consideration, including a proposed improvement project for U.S. 127-South, and requested that they be studied by the University of Tennessee Transportation Center for Transportation Research.

After the UT study results came in, TDOT announced in October 2003 that the department would move forward with the roadway project, with modifications. A 20-member, locally nominated CRT was appointed by the commissioner to study the intersection of U.S. 127-South and SR-68 at the end of the roadway project.

The team’s recommendations for the U.S. 127-South project are as follows:

• SR68 intersects U.S. 127 at 90 degrees to tangent of the curve on U.S. 127;

• SR68 westbound will be free flow and become a second lane to the U.S. 127 northbound;

• U.S. 127-South will have one left turn lane to SR68 eastbound;

• U.S. 127 northbound right lane will become a right turn alone to eastbound SR68 and the lane will drop at the intersection;

• The triangle will be rehabilitated to approximately the current condition with landscaping typical of the 1930s Cumberland Plateau;

•¬†Shoulder paving will be minimized to minimize the apparent footprint; and

• Continue to preserve the triangle and minimize footprint wherever possible.

The CRT also recommended the formation of an Enhancement Committee to assist TDOT in determining aesthetic and special design features which will be compatible with the historic context of the project. The Committee membership will be announced soon.

The Cumberland County Regional Planning Commission and the Crossville Planning Commission recently passed resolutions endorsing the recommendations made by the CRT and strongly encouraged TDOT to move forward with the plans outlined by the CRT.

TDOT will now proceed with the design phase of the project and will begin acquiring the necessary right-of- way for the expansion. After plans are developed, TDOT will hold a public information meeting to share project plans with the public, and to exhibit additional enhancements and design features.