Apison Pike is expected to undergo a major makeover over the next few years according to an official statement released by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Plans call for expanding the road from two to five lanes with curb and gutter, plus added sidewalks, bike lanes and Greenway trail connections by or before June 30, 2025.
In this third phase of construction, the 3.4 mile-long project will widen the roadway from Ooltewah-Ringgold Road to east of Layton Lane near the Collegedale Municipal Airport. Improvements include grading, paving, and new signals along with the construction of several new bridges. In addition, much of the project will be built on new alignment, meaning that the road will have updated curves and grades of steepness.
A large bridge is also projected to be built over the railroad tracks that run through Collegedale to the McKee plants.
“The railroad splits Collegedale in half, and the bridge will help emergency services because we have been stopped many times because of trains,” said Ethan White, a commissioner who volunteered with the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department for nearly two years, in an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Avoiding Apison Pike completely will improve emergency services for residents.”
“Yes, it is necessary,” said Lorraine Ball, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication, who has lived in Ooltewah since 2000 and worked at Southern since 2001. “With the train, the traffic can be backed up all the way to the stoplight. So I see the need, but I don’t look forward to construction.”
In a 2017 statement announcing the plan, Gov. Bill Lee said, “Investing in infrastructure is an important part of driving economic opportunity throughout our state. This funding, particularly for rural Tennessee, will help to keep Tennesseans safe.”
While the $93 million contract awarded to Wright Brothers Construction Company is still being finalized, drivers in the Collegedale area should start seeing activity on the project in early 2020, according to the statement by TDOT. Once a work schedule and project-phasing information are available, TDOT will communicate any further construction updates.