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TDOT says no four-lane to Smithville
Project is now wider road with turning lane
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Warren County residents who have been hoping to see the road to Smithville become a four-lane highway will most likely never see that happen, according to TDOT Commissioner John Schroer.
Schroer said the road work is being reevaluated. Originally, the proposed work on the road included improving the existing two-lane road to a four- and five-lane highway.
Current plans call for a wider two-lane highway with a middle passing lane in some spots. Only a small portion of the wider road would be in Warren County. The remainder would be in DeKalb.
The original cost of the project was estimated at $20.4 million. The revised total cost is $7.6 million, a savings of $12.8 million.
Schroer said he doesn’t have the money to spend that had been promised on road improvement projects by the previous commissioner.
“I don’t make promises I can’t keep. And, I don’t want to leave anything for the next commissioner that he or she has to deny,” said Schroer. “I’m telling a lot of communities, ‘No, we’re not building you a four-lane. No, we’re not building you a bypass.’ I feel my responsibility is to be honest and open and let everyone know what is going on whether it is good or bad.”
Key factors in determining which roads will undergo improvements are prioritized in the following order:
• Safety concerns
• Operational issues/ congestion
• Economic development
Smithville Highway does have a slightly higher accident rate than the average for rural roads, TDOT reports.
Schroer said if federal funding goes through, the road should be bid in approximately 18 months. The section set to be widened will follow the existing road.