On the Pressing Issue of Infrastructure

Photo: Erin O. Smith,  Chattanooga Times Free Press

Photo: Erin O. Smith, Chattanooga Times Free Press

In light of the recent partial collapse of the railing of the I-75 S overpass onto the merging lanes of I-75 N to I-24 W, Thrive Regional Partnership has released the following statement on the importance of infrastructure innovation in the greater Chattanooga region.

The interstates of the Chattanooga region are major arteries for commuter traffic and freight flow in the Southeast and the nation. They are essential to resident connectivity and access to the goods we need in a consumer economy that demands quick delivery. With working committees focused on freight, workforce, and broadband connectivity, Thrive keeps regional infrastructure top of mind to ensure that people, products, and data can move efficiently throughout greater Chattanooga in the face of escalating challenges.

It’s a common issue across the nation, that our roads and infrastructure have not been optimized, or even maintained, at the pace of a rapidly growing consumer economy. Already, the intersection of I-24 and US-27 is listed in the top 100 freight bottlenecks by American Transportation Research Institute - an unenviable position alongside much larger metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. Coupled with decades of commuter dependence upon single-passenger vehicles, our roads and interstates are wearing out.

It’s easy to complain about outdated roads and potholes, but we should be cognizant that our infrastructure is far past a band-aid solution. In reality, updates and maintenance is years behind. Planning departments across the region face a funding shortfall of $3.7 billion for currently identified projects. At some point, we should all embrace a civic responsibility to optimize the way we move.

How you can help:

Be part of the future of mobility. In an era where we value the latest information and smart consumption of goods and products, Thrive proposes that we travel smartly, understanding our transit decisions in the broader context of mobility in greater Chattanooga.

  • Take the backroads. Know your alternate routes from home to your office and use them! This frees up space on the interstates for tractor trailers (remember, they’re carrying your iPhone and Nikes), and probably makes for a more pleasant, scenic trip for you.

  • Share a ride. Leverage technology at the tip of your fingers by arranging a ride share with GreenTrips or Waze Carpool. GreenTrips also incentivizes alternative transit options such as taking the bus, walking, and bicycling to your destination.

  • Connect remotely. Start a conversation with your employer about remote work options that could keep you off the road during peak congestion times.

  • Understand the context. Of course we think about the way we get to and from work, however, we rarely consider the cost of the roads that get us there. Nor do comprehend who we share the roads with, the trucks that carry the goods we depend on - our food, medicine, and other essentials. Be aware of all of these literally moving pieces and where you fit in.

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