Committee wants study of Simerly Creek Road
Safety concerns were in the driver’s seat for the Carter County Highway Committee Tuesday, with members calling for a study on a highly traveled road and setting the stage for the establishment of a four-way stop on another.
Committee member Joel Street raised concerns about traffic and curves on Simerly Creek Road.
He said a large number of trucks – including tractor-trailers and logging trucks – travel on that road and often have to cross into the oncoming lane in order to navigate curves.
“They have to get all the way in the other lane to track those wheels to keep them out of Simerly Creek,” Street said.
Street, who lives in the Simerly Creek community and who represents the Second District, said vehicles traveling on Simerly Creek Road often find themselves either pulling into the ditch or being forced off the roadway to avoid a collision with the large trucks on the roadway.
“I dare say there is not a person in this entire community that hasn’t been put in the ditch at some time,” Street said.
He said that on one occasion, he witnessed an incident where a truck ran five vehicles into the ditch trying to navigate one of the curves and that he has personally been forced off the roadway.
“I drive a school bus and I’ve been put in the ditch in the school bus,” Street said. “What if I were on the other side of the road and I’ve got a 20-foot drop off into Simerly Creek with a busload of kids?”
Street made a motion that the committee ask County Attorney Keith Bowers to write a letter to the Tennessee Department of Transportation asking for a safety study on Simerly Creek Road. He also requested the matter be brought before the full County Commission in order to put the weight of the entire group behind the request.
The motion was seconded by Committee member John Lewis and passed unanimously.
An intersection also drew the committee’s attention.
Committee chair Buford Peters said he had been contacted by residents living near the intersection of Lee Street and Lynnwood Avenue regarding safety concerns with the intersection. Peters said currently traffic on both sides of Lee Street has to stop at the intersection but motorists on Lynnwood Avenue do not.
Peters said residents of the area expressed concerns to him over speeding on the roadway and accidents at the intersection, adding the residents are requesting the intersection be made into a four-way stop to alleviate those issues. Peters told the committee he went to the location to see the situation for himself and learned that an accident had occurred there on the day before his visit.
Members of the committee asked Peters if he felt a four-way stop is needed.
“I think it does,” he said. “That is just my opinion.”
Lewis made a motion to allow Shannon Burchett, the assistant road superintendent, to evaluate the intersection and use his discretion to determine if a four-way stop was needed and to take whatever action he felt was necessary. The motion was seconded by committee member Charles Von Cannon and passed unanimously.
The committee also heard from county resident Steve Bailey, who voiced concerns about speeding on Von Cannon Drive, Smalling Road and Jim Buck Road. Bailey said he lives on Von Cannon Drive and since the opening of a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency access point in that community, speeding and high traffic volume have become a problem.
“We have a bad speeding problem. We’ve got more traffic than the Wal-Mart parking lot,” Bailey said. “My grandkids can’t even get out in the road to walk from house to house because of the boat trailers and speeders.”
Speeding and traffic are a problem in the area, Von Cannon said, but he added that the county has no authority to restrict certain types of traffic – such as trucks pulling boat trailers – on the roadways.
Bailey said he has contacted the Carter County Sheriff’s Department regarding the problems but he feels additional enforcement is needed. “That is the only thing that will help it,” he said.
Peters said he didn’t feel the Highway Committee could provide a solution to Bailey’s concerns. “This looks like a law enforcement problem,” Peters said. “To slow the traffic down, the only recourse we have is to contact the Sheriff’s Department.”
Bailey was asked to take his concerns to the County’s Law Enforcement Committee, which Peters said would be better able to address his concerns.
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