The proposed Newport Bypass (Proposed State Route 35) is shown on its conceptual path from Saint Tide Hollow road (at upper right) to the intersection of US Highway 25-70 and Thinwood Drive (at lower left). The route will cross both the French Broad and Pigeon Rivers, as well as the current Cocke County Industrial park.

NEWPORT—The often discussed Newport bypass is about to become a reality.

A project nearly 20-plus years in the making will begin construction next year, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The entity confirmed the details in a press release on Thursday afternoon, as part of the annual three-year transportation plan.

The bypass is planned to run from St Tide Hollow on US Highway 321 to near Thinwood Drive on US Highway 25/70. Included in the project are bridges across both the Pigeon and French Broad Rivers, as well as crossing over the existing Cocke County Industrial Park.

The transportation plan for TDOT will fund 139 projects totaling $2.1 billion in infrastructure development.

The program provides support for Gov. Bill Lee’s first Executive Order, aimed at the state’s distressed counties. Eighty-six Highway and bridge projects in those counties are included in the plan.

“Investing in infrastructure is an important part of driving economic opportunity throughout our state,” Gov. Lee said in a press release. “This funding, particularly for rural Tennessee, will help to keep Tennesseans safe.”

The comprehensive program also continues to build on the progress of the IMPROVE Act, signed into law by former Gov. Bill Haslam in 2017, which provides for transportation investments in each of the state’s 95 counties.

This year’s program budgets dollars for 230 of the 962 projects listed as part of the 2017 legislation.

Other projects slated for Cocke County on the three-year plan include planning and engineering of TDOT’s intelligent transportation system on I-40 to the North Carolina state line in 2020 and construction in 2022, as well as engineering and planning of a renovation of the Hartford Welcome Center in 2022.

Three bridges are also slated to be repaired and renovated, including the Old State Highway 32 bridge over Cosby Creek, Ball Park Road bridge over Cosby Creek and the I-40 Bridge over Greene Corner Road.

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