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Topic: Tennessee in Motion

TDOT’s Environmental Initiatives Leave a Legacy for the Future

 

Tennessee in Motion is a monthly column by Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely

Tennessee Department of TransportationLast week, TDOT opened a new section of State Route 840, the highway that makes a half circle south of Nashville connecting I-40, I-65, and I-24. While the entire State Route 840 is not yet complete, this particular project is symbolic of the dramatic changes TDOT has implemented over the last several years in an effort to become better stewards of the environment. While many of those changes were focused on actual road construction, we have also seen monumental improvements in virtually every aspect of the department’s work.

The controversy over the last sections of SR 840 led to the launch of the Context Sensitive Solutions process, which forms valuable partnerships between TDOT and the citizens of Tennessee. CSS is now being used on a number of large projects across the state. The department has also strengthened its entire public involvement process to ensure our citizens are informed and educated throughout all phases of project development. The result – projects that complement communities; and include the input of residents and stakeholders, as well as adherence to environmental protection measures.

A map of State Route 840 from 2007

A map of State Route 840 from 2007

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Efforts to Save Teen Lives Are Making a Difference

 

Tennessee in Motion is a monthly column by Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

It can be one of the most frightening moments for a parent, watching your newly licensed teen drive away on their own for the first time.  It remains a fact that nationwide, a teenager is killed or injured in a traffic crash every three days.  Teen drivers have higher rates of fatal crash involvement than any other age group.  Studies show teens are more likely to take risks, be distracted or be nervous while driving.  That’s why the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol and other partners are working to give teens the tools they need to become safer drivers.

In 2006, TDOT launched “Between the Barrels,” our first ever teen safe driving program with a goal of saving lives through education.  Each year, Between the Barrels representatives and Tennessee Highway Patrol Troopers travel to high schools across the state and talk with teens about making smart decisions behind the wheel and what can happen if they don’t.  More than 100,000 have participated in the program to date and teens themselves tell us the program is working.  We’ve heard from students like Spencer Thomas Scott from Waverly Central High School who attended a Between the Barrels presentation and decided to begin wearing his seatbelt.  Spencer clicked his belt into place and moments later, his car left the roadway and flipped several times.  Spencer lived through the crash likely because he made the decision to wear his safety belt.  He’s just one of dozens of teens who’ve told us they are better drivers because of what they learned from our program. «Read the rest of this article»

 

New program works to identify and address potential rockfall sites

 

Tennessee in Motion is a monthly column by Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

The video of a Tennessee mountainside crashing down onto U.S. 64 in Polk County on November 10th was indeed spectacular and made national news. A rockslide that closed I-40 in North Carolina has also garnered its share of headlines and impacted thousands of motorists. With clean-up at both sites expected to take months, these events show the impact rockslides in mountainous areas can have on our transportation system, local economies and the commuters who rely on these routes.

Given Tennessee’s terrain and the vagaries of weather and other factors, the threat of such rockslides is ever present. Several years ago, TDOT began implementing a Rockfall Mitigation Program to address these transportation pitfalls. The program first identifies potential rockfall sites, and then assigns a hazard rating to each location. The hazard rating is based on the potential for a rockfall event and the impacts to travelers and surrounding communities. «Read the rest of this article»

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TDOT Adds to Winter Weather Arsenal

 

Tennessee in Motion is a monthly column by Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

As Tennesseans enjoy the cooler temperatures and changing leaves of fall, TDOT Maintenance forces across the state are focused on the winter months ahead. Although we don’t typically see severe winters in the southeast, even small amounts of snow or ice can cripple our transportation system and create dangerous conditions for motorists. And, the wet weather pattern we’ve seen for much of 2009 makes one wonder if this could be a winter to remember.

When battling a winter weather event, time and resource limitations can be as formidable an opponent as the snow and ice that may be falling. This year, TDOT is testing a number of new weapons that all have the potential to save valuable time, manpower, and money. «Read the rest of this article»

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Keeping a watchful eye on bridges in the State of Tennessee

 

Tennessee in Motion is a monthly column by Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely

As heavy rains fall on Tennessee, TDOT’s bridge inspectors await notifications from an automated program called “Bridge Watch.” Flooding can undermine the structural integrity of certain bridges in the state, so TDOT utilizes this program to alert the department of any potential problems with bridges due to heavy rains.

The most common cause of bridge failure is the undermining of a bridge structure because of scour. Scour is the erosion of a stream or river bed due to excessive stream flow. TDOT has classified 897 bridges in Tennessee as scour-critical, which means bridges could experience a catastrophic failure or become structurally unstable as a result of a destructive flood event.

Bridge scour «Read the rest of this article»

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