Tennessee Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing Jan. 16 in Chattanooga as part of the department’s study and evaluation of the I-75 corridor.
In a public notice released in early December, 2019, “I-75 in the east-central part of the state” is listed.
The notice reads: “The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will host a public meeting on January 16, 2020 to gather public input to evaluate potential transportation improvements in order to address existing and emerging issues in the I-75 corridor. The meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the following location: Tennessee Department of Transportation: Region 2, 7512 Volkswagen Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37416.
“The Tennessee General Assembly has authorized TDOT to study four interstate corridors: I-55 in southwestern Tennessee, I-155 in northwestern Tennessee, I-75 in the east-central part of the state, and I-26 in eastern Tennessee. These corridors represent more than 200 miles of freeway traveling through urban and rural counties, supported by a robust network of state and local roadways, rail, air, transit, and non-motorized transportation facilities.
“The meeting is being held to provide the public an opportunity to provide comments regarding this current corridor study. Representatives of TDOT will be available to provide information on various aspects of this effort.”
However, the TDOT website lists the time frame as being from 5:30- 6:30 p.m. and does not specifically mention “I-75 in the east-central part of the state.”
Some 19 years ago TDOT did preliminary studies for a Knoxville bypass, or beltway, which included three routes for the project. One route, the “Orange Route” was designed to connect I-75 in Loudon County and go through East Wolf Valley Road and connect back into I-75 at that point.
The 25-mile route received the most consideration, but was shut down because studies showed that route would not divert as much traffic as initially thought, several print outlets reported at the time.
The Orange Route was one of three beltways looked at by TDOT, and was selected over “Blue” and “Green” routes, which took other avenues through Anderson County. The beltway (Orange Route) would have been designated I-475 at a cost — in 2002 — of nearly $300 million.
In 2006, TDOT announced the “Orange Route” would move forward, according to Interstate-Guide.com, but would move through Hardin Valley in Knox County and would include interchanges at Pellissippi Parkway and Clinton Highway. The cost estimate in 2006 was nearly $600 million, with a completion date set for 2028.
However, in 2010 TDOT selected a “no build” option for the Orange Route, effectively killing the project.