published Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Komatsu builds new plant entrance between Signal Mountain Road and Runyan Drive

A Komatsu America employee parks a new piece heavy equipment on the yard Monday at the Chattanooga manufacturing plant. Komatsu employs more than 200 people at the Signal Mountain Road facility.
Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press
A Komatsu America employee parks a new piece heavy equipment on the yard Monday at the Chattanooga manufacturing plant. Komatsu employs more than 200 people at the Signal Mountain Road facility. Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Heavy equipment maker Komatsu is building a new truck entrance to its Chattanooga plant that's aimed at improving safety and traffic flow on busy Signal Mountain Road, an official said Friday.

Komatsu General Manager Dennis Riddell said the work is underway on Mundy Drive between Signal Mountain Road and Runyan Drive. He put the work's cost at "a couple hundred thousand dollars."

Currently, trucks enter and exit the plant on Signal Mountain Road near one of the Walmart entrances. Riddell said the new entrance will help alleviate tying up traffic on the road.

"We don't have a deceleration lane to enter our plant," he said.

Plans are to continue to use the Signal Mountain Road entrance, but the new work should improve traffic flow and safety, Riddell said.

"We'll try make it look attractive with grass and trees," he said.

A resident who lives behind the plant on Runyan Drive said he doesn't think the new entrance will hinder traffic on Mundy Drive.

"Surely, the city planned it out," said Clovis Boozer, who lives at 534 Runyan Drive.

The new entrance to the plant, which employs over 400 people making excavators and other construction equipment, is located near commercial sites such as a former Kmart, a Burger King and a city fire hall, Riddell said.

"We think that road doesn't have much traffic," he said.

Riddell said business is steady at the plant, especially compared to the recession years of 2009 and 2010. He said the site is holding a lot of inventory because of a change Komatsu made in its supply chain.

The plant's general manager said the company decided to store more of the equipment it makes on site, rather than at distributors. That shortens the time it takes to fill orders and deliver equipment, he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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