The short center lane on Highway 70S in the area of Omni Drive may stay undersized.
McMinnville officials requested that TDOT lengthen the turning lane on the highway so that more room is available when outbound motorists attempt to take a left-hand turn onto Omni Drive, but the state did not readily accept the request.
“We received a letter from TDOT on our request to pull the median back and have that as a turning lane,” said Mayor Ben Newman, who read a letter aloud during Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. “The request to incorporate a left-turn lane at the intersection of Omni Drive was not included in the original scope of work for the subject project. Upon review, the department’s traffic engineering office does not recommend the addition of the turning lane. There are concerns the addition of a left turning lane at this location would create operational and safety issues on State Route 1.”
The correspondence was not an outright refusal.
“It’s not saying that they won’t do it, just that they don’t recommend it,” said Newman. “I don’t know where that leaves us.”
Alderman Everett Brock offered to find out.
Newman believes TDOT may have misunderstood the request, “It doesn’t have to be a left turn lane only. There are businesses on the other side of the street. It could be an open turn lane.”
“I thought they asked us for our input,” said Alderman Mike Neal.
Brock replied, “They did. We gave it. They said ‘no.’”
TDOT has plans to reconfigure the intersection near Three Star Mall. Among other changes, Magness Drive would be extended and connected to the lighted intersection on Highway 70S and Sparta Street will no longer merge onto the highway.
According to TDOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn, they should have the final right-of-way plans this summer and the project is scheduled to be let to construction (bids open) in late summer 2021.
Local government will be responsible for acquiring the right-of-way properties necessary for the project.