While motorists’ eyes and area businessmen’s fortunes eagerly await the city’s resolution to the mounting traffic congestion along the 25th and Ocoee Street intersection, Cleveland Utilities is tackling other misfits of free flow as well; and some are just temporary fixes until permanent change comes through new construction and increased lanes.
Excluding the ongoing headaches of the 25th Street corridor from APD 40 to Candies Lane, CU continues to focus attention on another bottleneck — the Exit 20 interchange that connects the APD 40 bypass to the two-laned Pleasant Grove Road.
At present, traffic engineers are trying to chip away at delay times to help keep interstate-bound, and interstate-exiting, traffic flowing in hopes that the permanent fix — a total reconstruction of the interchange by the Tennessee Department of Transportation — will be coming sooner rather than later.
Some might have considered it a moral victory when traffic delays were sliced from almost 10 minutes down to five minutes and 40 seconds for those trying to reach the southbound Interstate 75 on-ramp.
Bart Borden, vice president of the CU Electric Division, addressed the Exit 20 dilemmas in a recent report to the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities. Borden’s division, which includes CU signal coordinator Tad Bacon, inherited Cleveland’s traffic signalization and synchronization headaches when the Cleveland City Council handed over traffic light duties to the public utility in January 2011.
“Vehicle detection additions were installed at Exit 20 on the Interstate off-ramps due to the paving additions by TDOT,” Borden told CU board members in a recent report. “Traffic counts were obtained for the PM (afternoon) peak times and a Synchro Model with simulation were created to calculate the best cycle times and approach times.”
This led to timing changes being made on the overall intersection “... and the southbound left-turn lane was changed from a lead to a lag configuration,” he explained.
Borden pointed to the results.
“It was noted that the APD 40 westbound queue length, which is the longest, did not lessen,” he said. “However, the travel time to reach the southbound Interstate on-ramp went from a total of nine minutes and 50 seconds to five minutes and 40 seconds during the PM peak.”
Borden called it “an appreciable change,” and said crews will continue to monitor the interchange which — according to some motorists who travel the area frequently — rivals some of the inner-city traffic congestion issues.
Acknowledging the I-75 Exit 20 interchange is a major challenge during morning and afternoon peak times, TDOT is working to hasten a construction plan that will lead to a new six-lane bridge. Bridge length will be about 300 feet, the on- and off-ramps will each get another lane and Pleasant Grove Road is expected to be widened to four lanes for about 500 feet on the far side of the interchange opposite APD 40.
In another traffic-related concern at a busy intersection, Borden said Bacon investigated complaints of vehicles not being detected for the Durkee Road and Benton Pike intersection.
“It was determined drivers were pulling beyond the stop bars on the left-turn approach and pulling on the shoulder of the road for a right turn,” Borden said. “Driver error seems to be the result of the complaints. We will continue to observe this intersection.”
Although traffic tie-ups and signal synchronization are demanding much of the Electric Division’s time, crews remain involved in a slew of additional projects. Borden reported on a few over the past month:
- A work order was issued to install underground and secondary electric cable and five pad-mount transformers for the final 23 lots of Weston Hills Subdivision Phase IV and 11 lots in Phase III. These sections were not served originally because of the economic downturn.
- A work order was issued to provide electric service to a new Starbucks at Mouse Creek Crossing.
- CU engineers have released a conduit installation drawing for the Retreat at Spring Creek Phase 2 which will include 108 additional apartments in eight buildings.
- A work order was issued to provide temporary power to the new Carmike Cinema Theater addition at the Bradley Square Mall.
- CU engineers reviewed a plat for the new Victory Cove development off Victory Street SE. This development will consist of 24 lots for Habitat for Humanity construction.
- Borden credited “... the hard work and dedication of our personnel to restore power after the Thursday, July 5, wind storm that left 12,500 CU customers without electrical service. All power was restored by Saturday night, he said. “We were able to send a crew to assist Volunteer Energy Cooperative for three days with power restoration,” he cited. Borden said VEC managers were appreciative of CU’s assistance.