After years of planning and development, the Town of Arlington is moving forward with pre-construction plans to widen a critical stretch of U.S. 70 between the Tenn. 385 exit and Airline Road.
Safety through the area of less than a half mile has become a major issue. The section includes the entrance to the town’s industrial park.
“We have Jetway Drive, which intersects with Highway 70 through that stretch of road, and it’s very dangerous and has been a deadly intersection,” Arlington Town Recorder/Treasurer Brittney Owens said.
Owens cited the lack of signalization for traffic crossing the four-lane highway.
“The exit of 385 also has gotten busier since it’s been opened all the way through the county,” Owens added.
The project will widen the road from four to five lanes to match the work that has already been done east from Airline Road, and traffic signals will be installed at Jetway and U.S. 70 to make it a safer intersection.
“When you have big trucks coming in and out and people driving 45 or 50 miles per hour down the highway, that’s why we’ve had some accidents in that area,” Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman said. “So immediately, it’s much more of a safety issue, and long-term it will also help with congestion.”
Once the work gets underway later this year, construction is expected to take roughly 180 days to complete.
“It’s taken several years to get this project done, so we’re very excited that’s it’s going to construction,” Owens said.
In order for the work to move forward, the town had to obtain the right-of-way from four property owners through the short corridor, which is all vacant land.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation project will be funded 80 percent by the state and 20 percent by Arlington. White Construction, which submitted the winning bid of $1.1 million for the project, was approved to handle the work earlier this week. TDOT clearance also happened earlier recently, so pre-construction planning will begin soon.
Wissman expects to see further development through the corridor in years to come, including a recently announced Waffle House that is in the early planning stages.
“Any new road improvements, curb and gutter will also enhance the area and help the property values around there too,” he said. “Anytime when you do a project like this and the road improvements get done through grant money, it makes it much more feasible for some of the land owners to come in and market their properties. I know we’ve already gotten calls abut the properties through there because they know the road is being widened.”
A similar widening is expected on Airline Road between Arlington High School and Interstate 40, likely after the U.S. 70 work is completed. That project will take the road to five lanes to match what’s already on the north side of town.
“That project’s in the right-of-way acquisition phase, so we’re working with property owners now,” Owens said.
The flurry of road work activity will couple with new construction projects scattered across the town heading into the spring and summer.
“So it’s about to get dirty,” Wissman said at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting last week, also referring to a new Regions Bank location near I-40 where work is about to get underway. “With all of this rain and mud we’ve had, we’re about to see a lot of dust this summer.”