published Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Cleveland tackles tie-ups at traffic lights

TRAFFIC LIGHT STUDIES

• Phase One: Paul Huff Parkway, $47,000.

• Phase Two: 25th Street, $38,000.

• Phase Three: Keith Street, $22,000.

Source: Cleveland Utilities

CLEVELAND, Tenn.—A Knoxville consulting firm has been chosen to study vehicle congestion around some traffic signals here and make recommendations on how to help traffic flow.

The city closed its traffic engineer office in 2010, and on Jan. 1 Cleveland Utilities was given the job of designing and timing all 74 traffic-signaled intersections.

“Traffic lights cannot cure every problem,” said Dennis Daniel, manager of CU’s Electric Division. “Sometimes it may take other solutions, such as more lanes.”

Daniel asked for public patience as the evaluations are made and solutions put in place.

As CU workers gain more expertise with traffic signals, its work crews may do some of the work, he said.

Cannon & Cannon, the consulting firm, will begin a study on Paul Huff Parkway from Adkisson Drive east to North Lee Highway and then south from Stuart Road to Ocoee Crossing.

“This is potentially where the most changes can occur with timing,” Daniel said. “Since these studies are extremely expensive, we will try to address other corridors in a couple of budgets.”

In the weeks leading up to switching the traffic lights to Cleveland Utilities, some City Council members asked about synchronizing traffic signals through downtown.

That may not be possible, CU General Manager Tom Wheeler said. In the past, he said, side streets were not major traffic arteries themselves, making synchronization on a major artery more feasible. But now, he said, synchronization just may create more backups on intersecting streets.

There may be other solutions, Wheeler said.

“One of the things we found out right off the bat is that all the traffic lights in town appear to be controlled by one program,” he said. “We think the study is going to show us, instead of one program that covers 24 hours a day, that over the course of the day we may have four or five programs depending on traffic conditions at a particular time.”

Wheeler used the traffic light at Mountain View Inn on Georgetown Road as an example. At noon there’s more traffic going to civic club meetings at the inn, and the signal could be programmed to account for that during only the noon hour, he said.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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