published Monday, April 30th, 2012

Traffic safety eyed in Cleveland

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    Bart Borden, electric division manager for Cleveland Utilities

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Cleveland Utilities has launched a number of projects intended to improve traffic flow along major roads and provide safer school zones in a number of areas around the city.

Last week, the utility board discussed progress on emergency signal planning and traffic-lighting initiatives on Paul Huff Parkway, Mouse Creek Road and Raider Drive.

Cleveland Utilities has implemented an emergency notification system with state and local agencies in the event of an unexpected closure on Interstate 75, with the intent of mitigating traffic congestion and alerting emergency and law enforcement services, officials said.

"We're not very anxious to use that plan, but it's there in the event we need it," said Bart Borden, vice president of Cleveland Utilities' electric division. "I think we'll respond a lot quicker and help traffic flow in town a lot quicker."

Borden said the plan calls for Tennessee Highway Patrol dispatchers to advise Cleveland Utilities of any interstate lane closures that might affect traffic flow on city streets. Utility personnel then would notify E-911, which would notify first responders.

Beyond the notification program, utility engineers would modify city street traffic signaling according to the impact of I-75 lane closures upon Cleveland's three exits.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland asked that the electric division review the possibility of making some signal changes on 25th Street, one of the city's major traffic corridors, which passes between I-75 and APD-40.

Rowland said he has received complaints about protected left turns remaining red with little opposing traffic at the intersection of Chambliss Avenue.

Borden said the electric division would study the situation, but personnel knew that sighting distance was a concern because of a nearby hill that 25th Street crosses.

Three school zones are in the middle of modification plans, according to Borden.

Flashing school zone lights were installed two weeks ago on Mouse Creek Road to service E.L. Ross and Yates elementary schools, Borden said. The lights are meant to replace the school zone that previously encompassed a stretch of Paul Huff Parkway on either side of its intersection with Mouse Creek Road.

In prior meetings, utility officials reviewed studies that indicated the Paul Huff Parkway school zone was less than ideal for a couple of reasons. First, the schools it was designed to protect were on Mouse Creek and some distance from the parkway intersection. Second, the old school zone impeded traffic flow along one of Cleveland's major thoroughfares.

Cleveland High School will receive a traffic zone makeover, as well.

Utility engineers are in the process of securing easements from property owners on the south side of Raider Drive for the purpose of placing a school zone flashing sign for the high school, Borden said.

The Raider Drive project was initiated at the request of city police and the crossing guard in an effort to control motorist speeds along the short stretch of road, he said.

The high school now has flashing school zone signs on Peerless Road, which it also borders.

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