TDOT program comes to county

Photo by Dave Boyd
Signs like the one on U.S. Highway 91 shown above are being placed near road construction sites across Tennessee as part of a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) program to get feedback on highway projects.

y Abby Morris
Star Staff
Drivers traveling through the U.S Highway 91 construction site are now able to call the state and compliment, or complain about, the project as part of the state's new program to get feedback from motorists.
As part of the "SmartWay" program instituted by Gov. Phil Bredesen in June, the Tennessee Department of Transportation announced last month the beginning of "Record-A-Comment", a program which places signs bearing the program's name and a telephone number near road construction sites across the state.
Last week, a sign was placed on U.S. Highway 91 at the road construction project currently under way there.
"More than 80 large blue signs are being posted at major highway construction zones all over Tennessee," TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely said when the program was unveiled at the end of September. "The signs invite drivers to call a special number to record their comment or concerns about TDOT projects they encounter."
According to TDOT, callers who dial 1-877-Smart-Way will hear a message inviting them to record their comment and to provide an e-mail or street address if they want to receive a response.
"The 'Record-A-Comment' hotline will be monitored by our communications staff in Nashville daily," Nicely said. "Suggestions and complaints will be shared with the project managers overseeing our construction sites. Callers who leave their contact information will receive a response to their call within seven days."
Nicely said he believes important information will be communicated to the department through the Record-A-Comment program. "We have more than 500 active construction sites across the state. We have almost 14,000 miles of roads in TDOT's system to monitor and maintain. Approximately 10 million vehicles travel those roads every day," he said.
"'Record-A-Comment' will be a vital new tool for our department, enabling us to stay on top of what's happening to drivers as they encounter those project areas. It will also provide easy access to TDOT for people feeling the need to share their frustrations immediately."
The "Record-A-Comment" program is a component of "SmartWay", which was unveiled this summer and will begin operating across the state over the next two years. "SmartWay" includes overhead instant message signs on urban highways which will be controlled from an operations center where highway traffic cameras are monitored. When accidents or slowdowns are detected, emergency crews are immediately dispatched to the exact location, reducing emergency response times while making urban highway travel safer and more efficient.