Father’s concern spurs action

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A man’s concern for his child’s safety moved the Highway Committee to action Tuesday afternoon as

Roy Hartley, second from right, tells members of the Highway Committee about what he calls the "imminent danger" presented by the narrow, curving roadway in front of his home. Members of the committee took a trip during their meeting on Tuesday to Hartley's home on Coal Chute Road.

Roy Hartley, second from right, tells members of the Highway Committee about what he calls the “imminent danger” presented by the narrow, curving roadway in front of his home. Members of the committee took a trip during their meeting on Tuesday to Hartley’s home on Coal Chute Road.

members took a field trip to visit a roadway the man described as an “imminent danger.” They later voted to take action to help fix the problems they found.
Roy Hartley, of 512 Coal Chute Road, spoke to members of the Highway Committee during the public comments portion of the meeting on Tuesday. He expressed his concerns about his family’s safety on the road in front of their home, particularly his daughter as she waited for the school bus. Hartley said there have been two incidents where his daughter has nearly been struck by oncoming motorists as she exited the bus because other drivers could not see the stopped vehicle on the narrow curvy road.
Committee Chairman Buford Peters said he had spoken with Hartley about the safety issues before, and since their initial conversation the county has placed signs warning drivers about the dangerous curve and about the bus stop.
Hartley said he appreciated the efforts of the Highway Department but said the problem continues because the signs are not enough to correct the problem.
“You can put signs from here to Johnson City but they won’t do any good unless they are enforced and the Sheriff’s Department won’t enforce them,” Hartley said, adding that he has spoken with the Sheriff’s Department about having officers patrol the area but has not seen any results. He said drivers continue to speed through the area and drive on the wrong side of the road while coming around the blind curves.
Hartley said the efforts of the county so far have proved ineffective and he described the situation as an “imminent danger,” saying several vehicles have run off the roadway in the area. He said it is only a matter of time before someone loses their life in accident on the road.
Members of the committee also heard from Marty King, who drives a school bus for the Carter County School System; his bus route includes Coal Chute Road. He also related to the committee stories about speeding drivers and oncoming traffic crossing into his lane of travel.
King also told the committee about two incidents where Hartley’s daughter was nearly struck by an oncoming vehicle; he said one vehicle missed her “by maybe six feet.”
Both King and Hartley requested that the committee lower the speed limit on the roadway. Currently the speed limit is 35 mph, which is the county-wide speed limit unless otherwise posted. They both also requested that the county install speed bumps to discourage speeding in the area.
“In order to get (the speed limit) lowered we have to get a petition from the people that live right there. If the committee wants to go out there and look at this and they feel it is a dangerous issue we can recommend to lower the speed limit,” Peters said. “This committee does not have the authority to tell Mr. (Jack) Perkins to put speed bumps on that road.”
Peters said it is against county policy to install speed bumps on county roads.
“We want to do anything we can to remedy the situation but there are only certain things we can do as a committee. We can only make recommendations.”
Committee member Sonja Culler said she was familiar with the road and location that Hartley and King were talking about and she too felt it was dangerous. She said she felt the 35 mph speed limit was too high for that area.
After some discussion, the committee decided to take the meeting on the road and travel to the site to get a better idea of situation.
Members of the committee drove to Hartley’s home and viewed the road in person as he explained some of the problems that residents in the area had encountered.
After seeing the site first-hand, the committee decided that the road did present a danger to the residents.
Culler made a motion to lower the speed limit on that section of Coal Chute Road to 20 mph and to work with property owners to get trees cleared to increase visibility around curves. The motion was seconded by committee member Bobbie Gouge-Dietz and passed unanimously.

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