TDOT to Spend 10.1M on Highway 64

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 8/19/2013 7:13 pm
POLK COUNTY, TN. (WDEF) -- It will be years before a decision is made about a by-pass through the Ocoee gorge.
But in the meantime, TDOT is taking steps to improve the troublesome and dangerous Highway 64 where possible.
Here's the latest project.

Highway 64 through the Ocoee Gorge is the only paved road between Cleveland, Tennessee and Murphy North Carolina.
Its best known as the site of this legendary video.
News 12 photographer Allen Fairbanks shot that video in November of 2009.
The road was closed for 5 months...dividing Polk county and effectively stopping tourism in its tracks.
Residents know it can happen again at any time.

DOUG COLLINS, POLK CO. COMMISSIONER "When the rockslide killed really hurt us, but as far as the safety impact..I drive it everyday, like I said and yeah, anything helps."

TDOT has been studying an alternate route, known as Corridor K, through that mountainous area for years.
Various studies are still underway and that decision, with its billion dollar cost, will be made until 2016.
But TDOT Commissioner John Schroer is trying to avoid another debilitating rock-slide.

JENNIFER FLYNN, TDOT CHATTANOOGA "The commissioner wanted to do something now. He wanted to see what can we do to the current U.S. 24 corridor right now.."

The Commissioner was in Cleveland last week to announce the award of 10.1 million dollars for upgrades that will begin in the next few weeks.
That would include rumble strips, guard rails, new markings and safety enhancements.

JENNIFER FLYNN, TDOT "The 11 projects that we are looking at immediately wouldn't require the roads be closed at all."

Polk county residents know that depending on Highway 64 for its economic life is problematic.
And there's always an element of danger.

DOUG COLLINS, COMMISSIONER "Personally, me driving it back and forth to work..probably not...but my biggest concern is for my future, my kids, my grandkids..and the people on down the road."

Highway 64 through the Ocoee gorge has been the site of numerous traffic crashes over the years.
Earlier this year, two people on a motorcycle were killed in an accident on that road.
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