published Monday, June 13th, 2011

Signal Mountain drivers brace for road paving

Signal Mountain commuters are bracing for 50 days of agonizingly long mornings and afternoons as paving begins today on a five-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 127.

Still, people who live or work on the mountain say they plan to brave the crawling traffic on the major road up and down Signal Mountain anyway.

“We need the road fixed,” said Marian May, a Signal Mountain resident who travels to work in Hixson every day. “But it’s just painful.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation said the project will resurface the road between Miles Road and Glendale Drive at a cost of $927,090.

Most of the cost is being covered by federal dollars, and the project, which will affect 7,300 drivers who travel the road each day, is set to be completed by the beginning of August.

Daytime construction — officials say between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. — will certainly frustrate many motorists. TDOT officials encourage commuters to take alternate routes, such as the W Road, Roberts Mill Road or U.S. Highway 127 off the back of the mountain into Dunlap, Tenn.

Contractors plan to work six days a week, Monday through Saturday, and will start work at the top of the mountain.

One lane will be closed for milling and paving, but when possible, a lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction.

Emergency vehicles will have to call Signal Mountain police to halt traffic if they need to get down or up U.S. 127. If that takes too long, they, too, will have to use alternate routes, officials with Waldens Ridge Emergency Service said.

May said she is glad the work is being done over the summer when families don’t have to take their children to school. Many people will use the W Road to get off the mountain, but she plans to avoid it, fearing that congestion and drivers unfamiliar with the road’s tricky hairpin curves could lead to accidents.

Mary Ledford, who travels from Red Bank to her job at a pharmacy on the mountain every morning, said she plans to leave 30 minutes early to get to work on time, at around 6 a.m.

And she said she hopes workers will do a good job directing traffic.

“I’ll just have to do it,” she said. “I don’t want to travel the W Road.”

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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