Tennessee Department of Transportation officials are redrawing modification plans for the intersection of 25th and Ocoee streets, and should present the alternative to the Cleveland City Council on Sept. 24.
The new version is expected to have fewer lanes and cost the city less money. Council members balked in July when they learned it would cost about $1.2 million to buy property in the right of way; it would cost Cleveland Utilities around $1.6 million to relocate power lines and poles; and business owners complained about the loss of parking space. As a result, the elected officials opted to spend $2,000 on a traffic study instead of floating a bond for the city’s share.
Cleveland Utilities signal coordinator Tad Bacon and Bart Borden, vice president of CU’s Electric Division, have worked to synchronize traffic lights at many of the city’s busiest intersections since the public utility assumed control of the complicated network in January 2011.
Bacon reported recently that Knoxville-based Cannon & Cannon, a traffic engineering firm, has been contracted to help with both the turn movement and average daily traffic counts at the congested 25th and Ocoee intersection.
Those counts were done over a 24-hour period on Tuesday and Wednesday. The turning movement count includes left turn, right turn and straight-through traffic on all four approaches. The data will be forwarded to TDOT to use in their models.
Bacon doesn’t expect the data will show anything new, but if it does, he will make adjustments in the signal timing. Traffic is sometimes stalled on 25th Street when drivers attempt left turns from Ocoee Street into the shopping plaza north of 25th Street or into CVS Pharmacy on the south. An additional left turn lane would help with those movements. However, if cars stop too far in the intersection beyond the stop line, the detectors won’t know the car is there, Bacon explained. He stressed that signalization cannot compensate for driver behavior.
The bottom line is that Cleveland is growing and traffic volume has reached capacity along 25th Street at Ocoee, Georgetown Road, and in the morning at Candies Lane, Bacon noted. It is a point he and Borden have stressed repeatedly during sessions of the City Council and Cleveland Board of Public Utilities.
Cannon & Cannon will be contracted in the future to do a corridor study on 25th Street between Spring Creek on the east end and Candies Lane on the west end.
The engineering firm conducted a similar study on Paul Huff Parkway and Keith Street in 2011 after Cleveland Utilities accepted the task of maintaining the 80 signal lights in the Cleveland system.
Those 11 signals are part of a corridor system and one is dependent on the other. They are timed in a coordination pattern to maximize the flow on the main streets.
“That whole corridor system from the Spring Creek signal on APD 40, along 25th Street to Candies Lane, are all part of the same corridor system,” he said.
Beyond Candies Lane, the lights on Georgetown Road at Villa Drive and Paul Huff Parkway “run free, which means they are independent of each other and any other signal,” he said. “They each have their own detector and controller that just looks at the immediate traffic at that intersection and determines when to change the lights.”
The type of detector varies at different intersection. Most are imbedded in the pavement. Video detection is used at 25th and Keith, and radar detection at the interstate ramps and Candies Lane.
“There is nothing in the pavement (at 25th and Keith). It’s video cameras on the poles,” he said. ‘We have radar detection at the interstate ramps and Candies Lane. It’s a white looking box on the mast arm of the pole. It sends out a radar signal that reflects back off of vehicles. It’s very, very accurate technology, something we’re very pleased with.”
Radar detectors are more expensive on the front end, but long term, they cost less because they are low maintenance.
“The advantage in maintenance and flexibility — we think over time, the city would definitely save money over the lifetime of those detectors,” he said. “If TDOT came in and milled a road that had to be paved, by the time we added the loop (embedded) detection back on that one approach, we would have exceeded what the original radar detection cost would be.”