Chattanooga transportation officials are proposing road changes to East Martin Luther King Boulevard as part of an effort to improve the East Martin Luther King Boulevard/Bailey Avenue corridor near downtown Chattanooga.

Officials want to improve traffic flow and make the road safer for drivers, transit passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists to better fit community needs. Those plans include a proposal to change the road from four lanes, with two lanes of travel in each direction, to three. The new design would feature one lane of travel each way and a turning lane in the center.

Similar road adjustments in Chattanooga and other cities have helped cut down on crashes and improve traffic flow without impacting capacity, Chattanooga Department of Transportation officials said. The Tennessee Department of Transportation suggests roads with average daily traffic of less than 20,000 vehicles may be well suited for four-lane to three-lane changes. East Martin Luther King Boulevard averages fewer than 13,000 cars a day and has problems with speeding vehicles. Technical analysis shows lane reduction measures could be a good fit, according to CDOT.

The city is proposing three options in an online public input survey:

  • Option A includes two vehicle travel lanes and a center turn lane, each 10 feet wide, and two on-street bike lanes.
  • Option B involves two vehicle travel lanes and a center turn lane, each 15 feet wide.
  • Option C would keep the road as two travel lanes in each direction.

In each scenario, the city would maintain on-street parking and access to driveways and streets.

City officials said initial input from business owners and community members shows support for Option A, but they’re seeking public input with online survey through Thursday, Sept. 15.

The road improvements are part of a bigger picture plan to improve the Martin Luther King Boulevard/Bailey Avenue corridor that would also include sidewalk improvements, the addition of handicap accessible ramps at crosswalks, repaving Bailey Avenue from the railroad overpass to Dodds Avenue and the Miller Park improvement project.