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Gilbert: Cookeville Road Project Project Would Be A “Game Changer”

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Gilbert: Cookeville Road Project Project Would Be A “Game Changer”

The idea of creating a new north-south roadway over Interstate 40 could help Cookeville get ahead of its increasing traffic problems.

Cookeville City Council Member Chad Gilbert said a new Walnut Avenue overpass could give the city a needed option for north-south traffic. The idea presented by city officials to T-DOT leadership recently got Gilbert’s attention when it first came up at a council work session this spring.

“That’s a game changer in the sense it can relieve an enormous amount of traffic off Jefferson and Willow,” Gilbert said. “So you get an economies of scales and multiple benefits off of roads that are highly congested now.”

The city also proposed improvements to the intersections of both Jefferson and Willow at I-40 by widening the on-and-off ramps. The plan also included additional lanes of I-40 through Cookeville.

“You have to move traffic, and you want to be ahead of that,” Gilbert said. “You want be ahead of the curve. You want to do that now before the need is too great and problematic.”

The idea is simply an idea. The city presented several proposals as part of the Governor’s plan to put more money into road projects, especially in rural areas. The plans include not just more money to deal with the state’s growth, but also an emphasis on cutting the turnaround time from about 15 years to five years.

Cookeville presented its plans last month.

“There’s 750 million dollars out there that is eligible for improvements in towns in our region,” Gilbert said. “We are one town of many that will be making our appeal that says hey here the projects we see, the projects that we’ve already deemed necessary.”

Gilbert said the project is taking small steps forward with the T-DOT meeting, but funding is not a sure thing. He also said if funding was approved it may be a while before we see the improvements.

“Something of that magnitude takes many many years,” Gilbert said “To T-DOT’s credit, they are trying to accelerate the process from an idea to construction more than what we typical experience. I’m optimistic from what we’ve seen from TDOT, they want to abbreviate that timeline, so that it is usable in the near future,” Gilbert said. “Now don’t take that as it will be working by next year, but I’m optimistic that its better than what we’ve been seeing.”


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