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I-26 Exit 13 plan delayed; new bridge to be built

Rex Barber • Jul 22, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Improvements to Exit 13 on Interstate 26 now include the replacement of the bridge that spans the interstate and new lighting to better illuminate the ramps.

Originally, the changes planned for this exit included adding dual turn lanes and a new exit ramp and widening the bridge, which is part of Tenn. Hwy. 75, also known as Bobby Hicks Highway. This road also is referred to sometimes as State Route 75.

Back in 2012, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials said the project was to begin this month; however, it was determined the bridge needed replaced.

“The materials and design methods used to construct the existing bridge were determined to be incompatible with TDOT’s new materials and methods to modify the existing bridge,” TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi said in an emailed statement. “These issues led to the decision to replace the existing SR-75 bridge instead of modification.

“Bridge replacement requires an increase to the finished grade to allow necessary clearances over I-26. Changes to the finished grade required TDOT’s roadway designers to re-evaluate design parameters to include right-of-way impacts throughout the project.”

Nagi said the project would be let out for bidding in October.

The original cost estimate for this project was $12.3 million, but now the cost is approximately $14 million.

Interchange lighting will include high mast and ramp lighting.

Changes to this exit have apparently been discussed for many years. This project was first announced in summer 2010.

According to TDOT information from 2012, an average of 21,800 vehicles travel along Tenn. Highway 75 each day. Exit 13 provides access to and departure from Highway 75. This section of Interstate 26 has about 56,000 vehicles per day on it.

Traffic heading to Highway 75 often queues up on the Exit 13 ramps and presents a safety and operational hazard, according to TDOT.

This exit leads to the Gray community. Tri-Cities Regional Airport can also be accessed by taking this exit and driving west.

After a bid is approved it could take several years to complete the project.

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