Controllers monitor highway traffic flow in the new TDOT Management Center. Staff photo.u00a0

Despite a cancelled appearance from Gov. Bill Haslam, state and city officials managed to mark the official opening of Chattanooga’s new TDOT Management Center at Enterprise South.

Haslam, who had been scheduled to speak at the event, was forced to back out after heavy fog delayed his flight. 

“That’s why you should travel the roadways,” joked TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, who filled in for Haslam behind the podium. “You can get places a lot quicker on the roads than if you fly.”

A faster, safer commute is the goal for the new $28.9 million management center, which began operating earlier this year. The facility joins others in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville as part of the TDOT SmartWay system, established in 2003.  

Through a network of 71 SmartWay traffic cameras, 175 monitoring sensors and 16 dynamic message signs, controllers hope to control traffic congestion while increasing road capacity by as much as 30 percent. 

Along with having access to information and live camera feeds online, the center will relay traffic flow interruptions to the public on a city-wide highway advisory radio station broadcasting on AM 1620. 

Speaking to the crowd, state Sen. Andy Berke said the center plays a critical role in the economic development of the region. 

“Infrastructure is critical to economic development, and in a world where 297,000 Tennesseans woke up this morning and looked for a job, we’re always looking for ways to improve our economic development,” Berke said. “As we look to streamline our roads and use our infrastructure better, this is a critical piece.”

Eventually, state officials hope to include the 21 cameras located in the fog zone in Bradley and McMinn counties.