Hwy 27 ramp closures impacting local businesses
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Routes around Chattanooga's massive Highway 27 project are changing again. The Manning Street entrance ramp will permanently close Monday. It's the latest of several closures impacting some local businesses.
It's all part of the project to widen the 1.6 mile stretch of Highway 27 between the Olgiati Bridge and Signal Mountain Road. TDOT says the old design isn't working, but some small businesses on Manning Street say this new road plan is hurting business.
The Whitehall Road ramps have already closed for good. Manufacturer's is closed until next spring. The Manning Street exit is already shut off permanently and starting Monday, the on-ramp will be too.
"A lot of my customers depend on me being close to an Interstate, having easy access. I get a lot of people from out of town," Auto Instrument Repair owner Bjorn Sorenson said.
Sorenson says his unique business of restoring vehicle gauges has done well since opening on Manning Street three years ago, but since the 27 project started..."I've gotten a lot of complaints about it," Sorenson said.
The Manning Street ramp closure makes three in a row drivers now can't use. "End up going all the way to Red Bank and there's no easy way to get back this way," Sorenson said.
"It's definitely affected business," Liquid Seven owner Jon Fitch said. His printer, ink and toner shop has already taken a hit since the other ramps recently closed.
"Definitely already seen a slow in traffic. There's not as many cars on the road and more than half the people who stop in here...the new customers would be from simply driving by," Fitch said.
Now with the final closure Monday, he's trying to come up with ways to make sure his business is seen. "Hopefully we can get the word out just through as many advertising ways as we can," Fitch said.
TDOT says the closures are necessary, despite their impact on nearby businesses. "The reason it has to be closed is because we're widening out the area there and plus the construction of some bridges in the area," TDOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn said.
TDOT says driver safety is priority. "It'll be a newer, safer road once we're done," Flynn said.
TDOT says they'll close the Manning Street on-ramp Monday after the morning commute. They will post detour signs for drivers to follow.
The final completion date for the entire Highway 27 project is December 2014, with the Manufacturer's ramp scheduled to reopen next spring.