Several property owners along Highway 56 south turned out for a Design Public Meeting Thursday evening hosted by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to learn more about the state’s improvement plans for the road.
Robert Rodgers of the TDOT Region 2 Project Development Office gave a power point presentation of the plans and then took questions from the audience. Detailed maps of the project were also displayed for landowners and others to view.
The Highway 56 improvement will be conducted in three phases. The state plans to build largely two lanes of a proposed four lane project and maintain traffic on the existing Highway 56 (alignment) while construction is being done on the new portion.
TDOT proposes to let bids for two of the phases in December from south of the Warren County line to near Magness Road and from south of State Route 288 near Magness Road to East Bryant Street in Smithville. Construction is expected to begin by next spring. The third segment from near State Route 287 in Warren County to near the DeKalb County Line is not yet ready for bid letting.
“The current bid schedule is the winter of 2018. Currently it is in the December letting which means construction should start in earnest when spring begins in 2019. The second and the third phases currently are scheduled to be let together. Which end is started on, that will be for discussions between our construction office and the contractor. He may decide to start on the north end or the south end of the project,” said Rodgers.
Following the meeting, Rodgers gave a general description of the project for WJLE.
“On the southern part from the DeKalb County line up to Vaughn Lane, its going to be a two lane roadway. There will be left turn lanes at the side roads. As we get closer to Smithville where some of the intersecting roads are offset there will be some extended sections of three lanes. Once we get to Vaughn Lane we will be expanding to the three lane typical all the way up to just past Morgan Branch. When we get past Morgan Branch we will be building a five lane section with curb and gutters and sidewalks,” said Rodgers.
According to Rodgers, the state will deviate from the existing road in the Shiney Rock area in order to bypass the cemeteries.The highway will then tie back in to the existing alignment in Smithville.
“Where the church and the cemetery are now, we are going off alignment because there was not room to fit the proposed finished road in between the two. Traffic on that section will stay on the existing road until the new road is complete,” said Rodgers.
One property owner affected by the project expressed his frustrations during the meeting with TDOT for changing the plans from the original design and he took issue with TDOT for saying all the rights of ways have been acquired.
“This is impacting my farm in several different places. I have been lied to from day one about how this project was going to happen and how it was going to come down. Every time we look at what you propose it changes and you have not bought all the rights of ways yet. I feel like with some people, their impact may be different now with your new drawings compared to what it was with the previous drawings. I think a lot of this is very unfair,” said the frustrated property owner.
Another man questioned how the project between Vaughn Lane and South Tittsworth Road will impact his row cropping operation in that area.
“We row crop all that land between Vaughn Lane and South Tittsworth. How am I going to operate not knowing what you are going to take?. Are you staying strictly with the right of way? It looks like there might be a 240 foot right of way purchased there. I was told when the construction phase begins they may need a lot more land,” he said.
“We are staying with the right of way we have purchased for that property,” replied Rodgers. “ However there is one spot at the beginning of the project where there is a stream where we will have to acquire slightly more property,” he added.
The proposed cross sections for the project are as follows:
*From south of State Route 287 to north of Bessie Gribble Road-two 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, four-foot shoulders and ditches.
* From north of Bessie Gribble Road to Vaughn Lane-two 12-foot travel lanes with 12-foot shoulders and ditches. There will be left turn lanes at intersecting roadways.
*From Vaughn Lane to north of Morgan Branch-two 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, 12-foot shoulders and ditches.
*From north of Morgan Branch to East Bryant Street- four 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, four foot shoulders, two-foot curb and gutter, a sidewalk within a 10 foot utility strip on either side.