Two years ago, plans to improve the west end of Cloud Springs Road began. On June 18, the Georgia Department of Transportation unveiled the preliminary ideas for those plans, including two roundabouts and a new route to Cloud Springs Elementary School from the road that shares its name.
Representatives from the GDOT held an open house at the Colonnade in Ringgold during which large aerial maps, posters outlining details and a video presentation were made available to the public and feedback was sought.
The road improvement plan applies to Cloud Springs Road, also known as Ga. Highway 146 (State Route 146), beginning at U.S. Highway 27 and ending at Lakeview Drive.
The purpose, says GDOT, is “to reduce crashes and improve traffic flow.”
GDOT says that the segment of Cloud Springs Road under the plan has an accident rate slightly higher than the state average for similar roads in Georgia. According to GDOT, there have been 211 crashes on the segment of Cloud Springs Road from Lakeview Drive to Fant Drive in five years (2013-17).
During the same period, says GDOT, there have been 144 crashes on Cloud Springs Road between Fant Drive and U.S. 27. GDOT defines the term “crash” as “an unintended event that produces injury or damage through the operation of a motor vehicle on a roadway.”
Other problems GDOT has identified along the route include a lack of turn lanes, bottlenecked traffic that causes congestion at Lakeview Drive, delays at side streets with stop signs, intersections too close to one another, and a lack of sidewalks and pedestrian accommodations.
A steady flow of local residents visited the open house to learn more about the plans.
One of them was Chickamauga resident Dennis Malone, who says he drives Cloud Springs Road fairly often and his wife drives it on a regular basis. Overall, says Malone, he likes GDOT’s plans. “I want to see North Georgia grow and become more economically independent,” he says. “Improving roads will help.”
But Malone, who works in engineering with the city of Chattanooga, does have one big concern — the time frame for the project. Construction is not slated to begin until 2028 and the project is expected to take up to 30 months to complete. “The area may outgrow the plan by then,” says Malone.
Malone says he’s a fan of roundabouts and says the ones in Chattanooga serve their purpose well. He prefers roundabouts with dedicated right-turn lanes, something the Fant Drive one will have but not the Cross Street one unless plans are altered.
Another big change that would take place would be the route to Cloud Springs Elementary School for those approaching on Cloud Springs Road from the west (the direction of U.S. 27). Currently, motorists must branch off to the left — onto Fernwood Drive — at a “Y” in the road. It’s at a curve on Cloud Springs Road and visibility can be limited. The plan calls for a new side street located beyond the curve. The street would lead onto Fernwood Drive.
GDOT’s plans for the road also call for two 20-foot-long raised medians, one “from Fant Drive to Colony Circle (east), with four 12-ft. travel lanes (two in each direction)” and one from “Colony Circle (east) to Lakeview Drive where the project ties into the existing 4-lane section at Cloud Springs Road.”
Sidewalks are planned for the full route of the project and cul-de-sacs are proposed for Brown Circle and Smith Lane (east).