TDOT says interchange design will accommodate traffic from potential retail center off exit 17

The Tennessee Department of Transportation(TDOT) held a public meeting Thursday evening to hear feedback on the Interstate 26 corridor, asking the public to fill out surveys on what should be improved.

Many at the meeting would agree I-26 could use some improvements, commenting on the congestion and safety of the road.

But already in the works is the exit 17 interchange, a plan that includes draining, paving, and the construction of a concrete box bridge.

“The exit 17 I-26 interchange in Boone’s Creek we have recently led a contract to do what’s called a diverging diamond,” said Dexter Justis, Region 1 TDOT Director of Project Development.

TDOT officials say the diverging diamond includes traffic lights and will ease the process of getting on and off Interstate 26.

“It is going to be a smaller version, or scaled down version, of what is at exit 407 when you get off and go to Sevierville Pigeon Forge off of Interstate 40, but this one will be underneath instead of over,” said Troy Ebbert, Region 1 Transportation Planning Supervisor.

Recently, lawmakers passed a bill that could bring an over 950-acre retail shopping center to land off the Boone’s Creek exit. Legislators say it could bring in over one million people. But, TDOT says there is no need to alter their construction plans for this project.

“This diverging diamond should handle this increase of capacity with no problem,” Justis said.

If traffic becomes heavy because for the new retail location, TDOT says they’ll continue to make improvements to the roads not off the table expanding I-26.

TDOT expects construction to begin next month and plan on having it completed by September 2020.

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