UPDATE:  Starting next week, a construction project will begin on a major highway in Polk County. TDOT crews will replace 15 cross drains on a four mile stretch of the Ocoee River Gorge on Highway 64.

The breathtaking views are what draw many to the area year-round.

Austen Gagne-Martinez was on his way to Blue Ridge, Georgia from Cleveland when he stopped near the Ocoee Dam.

"It's a beautiful drive. I'd rather take this road than the busy highway," he said.

The peaceful drive may soon turn into a headache. Starting next week, TDOT crews will remove and replace deteriorating cross drains from Caney Creek up to the Ocoee 2 Dam.

The work calls for intermittent lane closures.

"A lot of people take this route. I think for that reason, it's going to cause people to be stressed driving," Gagne-Martinez said.

Traffic starts early in the morning during the work week on Highway 64. Many from the Copper Basin area travel to Cleveland and Chattanooga for work.

"I feel bad for the people living on the east side of Polk County traveling to work every day," Ryan Cooke, the general manager for the Lake Ocoee Inn said.

Cooke said the timing for the project couldn't be better. It's the off-season for rafting.

"These projects to start this time of year is a blessing to us rather than during June, July, and August when it's heavy rafting season and we're trying to drive up the river gorge to take our customers rafting," Cooke said.

Once the cross drains are replaced, the road will be resurfaced in the spring.


Some 15 cross drains on US-64 in Polk County will be repaired over the next few months.

Crews from the Tennessee Department of Transportation will perform the work between log miles 13 and 17, between 8:00am and 4:30pm from Monday, January 29, 2018 and lasting through March 30, 2018.

The work in this four-mile section of US-64 in the Ocoee River Gorge will affect traffic coming to and from the Copper Basin area.  

TDOT explains that log mile 13 is located next to the commercial take-out at Caney Creek and log mile 17 is a half-mile west of the Ocoee 2 Dam/Rogers Branch River Access. 

After the cross drains have been replaced, road surface will be rougher than before. TDOT crews will monitor and mitigate these areas until the resurfacing project begins this spring.

Drivers are should use caution as they travel through this area.