And it wants to hear from you.
TDOT is in the midst of an 18-month study to maximize the potential of the interstate in the Tri-Cities, as well as Interstates 55 and 75 in West Tennessee and East Tennessee, respectively.
Called the “Interstate 55, 75 and 26 Multimodal Corridor Study,” this will be a first-of-its-kind study for I-26, according to Glenn Berry, manager of the Johnson City Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization.
“While TDOT has done studies on other interstates, this is the first study TDOT has conducted on Interstate 26 in Tennessee since it became an interstate,” Berry said.
Based on traffic count data compiled by Berry’s office, I-26 averages roughly 60,000 annual daily traffic trips, which is the total volume of traffic driving Interstate 26 in both directions for one year divided by 365.
The entire study will span 22 counties and cover more than 200 miles of highway. Its objective is to produce a prioritized list of long-term and short-term projects for TDOT and local transportation planners to consider in the years to come.
As part of the task, TDOT and contractor AECOM Technical Services Inc. will investigate possible solutions to future travel demands, safety concerns and traffic congestion. The study also aims to determine ways to maximize the potential for freight diversion and enhance the economic benefits of the interstates.
A timeline breaks the study down to six tasks: Data collection, deficiencies, solutions, project priorities, project management and public involvement. TDOT is expected to wrap up the study by March 2020 and publish the report online.
While the study officially began in September 2018, TDOT officials will spend the remainder of 2019 gathering data from stakeholders, identifying deficiencies and generating solutions.
“I often get calls about issues on Interstate 26 ranging from people who use it every day to get to work to concerned parents who have students going to ETSU,” Berry said.
“We at the Johnson City MTPO pass these along to TDOT, and we’re very pleased TDOT has listened to us and are conducting this study. This is the first and best opportunity for everyone to speak directly to TDOT about their concerns, whether it be safety, cable barriers, congestion, interchanges, or the issues they face as travelers. Now is the time for everyone to engage TDOT.”
To encourage more public input, TDOT has created an online survey where drivers can answer a variety of questions about the interstates, such as what other transportation options would travelers consider using and what improvements travelers might want to see.
That survey can be found by visiting www.surveymonkey.com/r/QZHRQJ7.
The public is also encouraged to attend meetings in their respective communities. Johnson City will host the I-26 meeting May 9 at Memorial Park Community Center, 510 Bert St., from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.
The I-55 meeting will be held on May 16 in Memphis, the I-75 meeting will be held in Knoxville on April 25.
The information gathered from the online survey and community meetings will assist TDOT in identifying deficiencies and guide final recommendations for the study.
For information about the meetings, contact Calvin Abram via email at [email protected] or by phone at 901-684-5447. To learn more about the study, contact Joan Barnfield by email at [email protected] or by phone at 615-253-2418.