TDOT plans safety projects on U.S. 11
by GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Apr 06, 2014 | 1302 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TRAVELERS ON HIGHWAY 11 have noticed the speed indicator and Tennessee Department of Transportation message boards, warning of dangers along the highway. Safety improvements are on the way, according to TDOT officials. Banner photo, GREG KAYLOR
TRAVELERS ON HIGHWAY 11 have noticed the speed indicator and Tennessee Department of Transportation message boards, warning of dangers along the highway. Safety improvements are on the way, according to TDOT officials. Banner photo, GREG KAYLOR
As local and state law enforcement agencies begin their busy summer season for traffic enforcement, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials have been working on plans to make safety improvements along a stretch of roadway where a number of fatalities have occurred during the past few years.

“On a 4.3-mile section of State Route 2 (U.S. 11) from Anatole Lane to State Route 308 (Lauderdale Memorial Hwy.), TDOT has a safety project tentatively scheduled to be let in July 2014. This is a corridor safety project to assist with lane-departure type crashes,” said Jennifer Flynn, regional communications officer for TDOT.

Just during the past two years, five people have lost their lives in the stretch of roadway which connects the city of Charleston to Cleveland from the north.

“This project will be adding or replacing new signs, striping, rumble stripes, and guardrail at selected locations. We are also adding snowplowable raised pavement markers on the centerline of State Route 2 (U.S. 11), warning signs on State Route 2 (U.S. 11) and on side road approaches, and some specialty pavement markings on State Route 2 (U.S. 11) and on side road approaches,” Flynn noted.

“Due to the narrow roadway footprint, we are also adding a wider than normal 6-inch edge line to more clearly delineate the edge of the roadway pavement which can assist in reducing speeds.”

Darkness along the roadway, especially when rain has fallen, could have been a contributing factor in a crash that killed an Etowah man in early March.

New and brighter markings along the roadway will add to additional safety.

“We are also realigning the intersection of State Route 2 (U.S. 11) and Walker Valley Road to correct the intersection skew due to crashes that occur in this area,” Flynn said.

Several years ago, a Charleston Police officer was injured when a vehicle attempted to make the turn onto Walker Valley Road from North Lee Highway.

Officer Anthony Anderson suffered broken bones during the collision. His inmate passenger (who was being transported to the Bradley County Jail) was also slightly injured.

TDOT also recently let a project to signalize the intersection of State Route 2 (U.S. 11) and State Route 308 (Lauderdale Memorial Hwy.) in Charleston.

That is near where former Charleston Police Chief Hank Hayden raised concerns about a slight blind hill near Sheffey Lane where at least two fatalities occurred in the past few years.

Bids were opened for the project on Feb. 14 and the project was awarded to Caldwell Paving & Grading Co., LLC of Charleston for $319,008.34.

Work has not yet begun on the project, but it should begin soon after the required pre-construction conference is held. The project is slated for completion sometime this fall, according to Flynn.

Capt. W. G. Campbell said the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office has been working with state officials in hopes of getting these safety improvements for the North Lee (Hwy. 11) area.

Campbell said BCSO is appreciative of the improvements being made along the highway.

“In 2010, Sheriff Jim Ruth began ‘Operation Lifesaver.’ The initiative was made to curb traffic crashes and especially fatalities through public education and safety awareness. Lives are precious and victims have names. They are not a number as indicated in data provided by state recorded fatalities,” Campbell said.

“Bradley County led the way in traffic fatality reduction in 2013, with eight deaths occurring in the city and county. Our goal is zero,” he added.

Distracted or inattentive driving has been attributed to a significant increase in crashes and fatalities.

According to information from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott recently joined police chiefs, sheriffs’ association leaders and highway safety advocates to announce the nationwide campaign to reduce traffic fatalities by 15 percent in 2014 – the “Drive to Zero Fatalities.” This national effort was initiated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

The “Drive to Zero Fatalities” campaign is a data-driven effort that will focus on several traffic safety enforcement goals, specifically, seat belt usage, impaired and distracted driving and speeding. It will also include enforcement actions against unsafe driving behaviors of large truck and bus operators.

“Tennessee has recorded some of the lowest traffic fatality figures on record for the past three years. We attribute that accomplishment to the data driven deployment of our state troopers and the work of local law enforcement agencies across the state,” Gibbons said. “We hope this year-long traffic safety campaign will produce even better results in Tennessee and nationwide,” he added.

In 2011, there were 937 traffic-related deaths on Tennessee roadways, while 990 people were killed in vehicular crashes in 2013, representing the lowest and second lowest figures, respectively, since 1963.

In 2012, 1,018 people died as a result of a traffic crash, the third lowest figure since 1963, according to THP and Department of Safety data.

“The message that we want to convey with “Drive to Zero Fatalities” is that no traffic fatality should be acceptable in your circle of friends. This is a personal slogan that everyone can relate to,” Trott said. “Each one of us should have a vested interest in keeping our highways safe and preventing fatal crashes caused by impaired or distracted driving, failure to wear seat belts and speeding. The “Drive to Zero Fatalities” is our goal for 2014,” he added.

In Charleston, a number of new industries and expansion has occurred, causing an increase in traffic along the Lauderdale and North Lee/Walker Valley corridors.

TDOT currently has no plans to widen State Route 2 (U.S. 11) in this area, according to Flynn.