Roy Exum: We’re 11th In Gridlock

Monday, September 17, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
At any given time on any of the seven days in a week, you can expect traffic on Interstate 24, as it snakes around the city, goes over Missionary Ridge, and heads to Interstate 75, to slow to a crawl. Sheer traffic volume now causes more slowdowns than wrecks or weather and it is guaranteed to get worse. Already Chattanooga is ranked No. 11 for freight gridlock in the entire United States and we’re easily the leader in Tennessee.
During last week’s Hamilton County Commission meeting, Bridgett Massengill requested $100,000 for each of the next three years to support the Thrive Regional Partnership and, brother, it could be the best money the taxpayers ever spent.
For what it’s worth, if I were on the Commission I would double the ask. Our planners have been terribly lax in coming up with solutions and, as Commissioner Tim Boyd pointed out, “I bet we are the only city our size in the entire Southeast that doesn’t have a bypass … Dalton’s even got one! (So does Dayton, Tn.)”
Bridgett offered some alarming figures of where we are as three major interstate systems make Hamilton County a major player in the next few years:
* -- Two years ago, it was learned about 120,000 vehicles travel through Chattanooga in a given 24-hour period. It is obvious that today the accurate count would be much higher.
* -- A full 80 percent of the freight traffic (trailer trucks) is through traffic – the trucks don’t stop but are en route to elsewhere. Do you know that 80 percent is the highest volume in the United States? This accounts for greater wear-and-tear on our systems.
* -- Over 40 percent of the Gross Regional Product (and jobs) in Hamilton County, as well as Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in Georgia, are logistic dependent.
* -- When President Eisenhower developed America’s Interstate system, it was deigned to do exactly that - to go from state to state. Almost immediately it became an “inter-city” system and – presto - today it is neighborhood-to-neighborhood, which is why of all the thousands of people who work in Hamilton County, over 40 percent do not live in Hamilton County.
There is one more key factor: When the Panama Canal was enlarged, it allowed gargantuan ships that once off-loaded cargo in California to instead use the East Coast. In 2017, over four million shipping containers came through the Port of Savannah. Thousands of foreign cars are off-loaded every day.
Now you know why the State of Georgia funded the McCaysville/Copper Hill truck route that will reduce the trucks on I-75. The bids on the three-year project are now in process and the fact it will stretch into Tennessee and cross the Ocoee River is masterful. There is a great story here … this is believed to be the first time GDOT and TDOT have partnered on a multi-million-dollar project.
What that means, my dear Watson, is that the THRIVE Regional Partnership is actually a collection of 16 counties surrounding Hamilton “where all the Interstate meet.” So, think this: When the McCaysville project proves how well Tennessee and Georgia can come together, a bypass – let’s say -- from the I-59/I-24 split that will connect with I-75 (far away from the Missionary Ridge overpass) is absolutely a no-brainer.
About halfway between Chattanooga and Atlanta is Cartersville, Ga., and, while Rome is about 25 miles from an I-75 entrance/exit, it’s the devil to get there, twisting through Kingston. But GDOT is now quite serious about plunking down $125 million to build a development corridor that would inspire other companies like the huge Budweiser plant in Bartow County that has already doubled in size and employs over 700 people.
Recently Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor explained it this way: Not only will the RCDC project be the biggest transportation project in county history, it very well could be one of its greatest drivers of economic development.
"With better roads and basic infrastructure, you will see more businesses locate closer to the interstate - you will see companies start to invest, not only industrial companies, but maybe some commercial companies, along that corridor," Taylor said. "It's going to have an impact on not just the road infrastructure, but water, sewer, fiber ... it will determine where new communities are started, and homes are built."
It is expected the city of Chattanooga will also support Thrive with $100,000 and the other counties, businesses, and philanthropies will all “have skin in the game.” I think it is a stretch to think the smaller counties can match Hamilton County and the city with $100,000 but their leaders realize we are far behind when we are now just one spot away from being the “The Top Ten” in freight gridlock in the entire United States.

* * *

Roy Exum@aol.com

 


Karl Dean's Education Equation Doesn't Add Up

So Karl Dean says he will fully fund education if he becomes governor. Mr. Dean was mayor of Metro Nashville for eight years. Nashville spends $11,946 per student on education, which is 30 percent more than the Tennessee average ($9,105).   One would think Nashville would be one of the highest rated school districts in the state. Oops, actually despite spending almost ... (click for more)

Vote Joda District 30

Joda is one of the few candidates for state office who can clearly state what he will actually do when elected to state office. This is a product of his strong work ethic and the education he received from the public schools of East Ridge and UTC. He’s a remarkable young man and deserves your vote.   Joda supports expansion of Medicaid, because working people should ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Investigating Shooting That Victim Says Happened A Week Ago

Chattanooga Police responded to a local hospital on Friday evening after a person arrived with a gunshot wound.   The injured man told police he was shot on Thursday, Oct. 11. He said he was shot while on the dance floor of a club somewhere along Brainerd Road.   If you have any information about the incident, call Chattanooga Police at 423-698-2525. You ... (click for more)

Charles Pipkens, Lajeromeney Brown Arrested In Series Of Violent Home Invasions In Which Robbers Posed As Police

Chattanooga Police have arrested Charles Dijon Pipkens and Lajeromeney Brown in connection with a series of violent home invasions in which the suspects told their victims they were Chattanooga Police officers.. Pipkens, 27, was charged in an Aug. 11 case and Brown, 40, in an incident on Sept. 19. Pipkens, of 434 N. Hickory St., is charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping, ... (click for more)

John Gilpin Repeats As Signal Mountain 10K Winner

John Gilpin made it three in a row in the rain at Signal Mountain Saturday morning. He had claimed victory in both the Raccoon Mountain and Moccasin Bend 10K races in recent weeks before adding his second straight triumph at the Signal Mountain Pie Run, a hilly 6.2-mile race that starts and finishes at the Signal Mountain Athletic Club on Ault Road. Gilpin was all alone again ... (click for more)

Baylor, GPS, CCS Advance To State Soccer Semifinals

Baylor traveled to Briarcrest in Memphis on Saturday to compete for a Division II-AA final four spot.  After play to a 0-0 tie in the first half, Baylor would find itself down 1-0 in the 63rd minute when Anna Strong scored off a corner kick.  That lead did not last long as Ara Rhodes scored the game tying goal one minute later off an Avery David corner kick. Two minutes ... (click for more)