published Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Traffic solutions sought for monuments crossing in Cleveland TN

Cleveland, Tenn.'s public works officials are researching proposals to improve safety at the crossing point between Eighth Street and Ocoee Street, an accident-prone site adjacent to a number of the city's monuments.
Cleveland, Tenn.'s public works officials are researching proposals to improve safety at the crossing point between Eighth Street and Ocoee Street, an accident-prone site adjacent to a number of the city's monuments.
Photo by Paul Leach.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland officials are looking for ways to improve traffic safety at the crossway between Ocoee Street and Eighth Street, next to a collection of the city's monuments and a site of frequent accidents.

In a recent meeting, members of the Historic Cleveland Neighborhood Association asked that the City Council consider replacing the crossway with a mini-roundabout.

"A mini-roundabout is ideal for crossings involving minor and major roads," said Nicholas Lillios, past president of the neighborhood association.

The one-lane roundabout would require little property from the adjacent Monument Building, owned by Lee University, and the nearby monuments would not have to be removed, he said.

In addition to making a safer intersection, the mini-roundabout would have a calming effect on traffic as it enters "pedestrian-friendly downtown" and allow for more campus green spaces, Lillios said.

The roundabout's concrete outlines are "gradual humps" that would let school buses and large trucks make 90-degree turns if necessary, he said.

But there may be too many cars traveling the South Ocoee corridor for a mini-roundabout, said Tommy Myers, director of the Public Works Department.

Federal guidelines state mini-roundabouts are suitable in areas where the average daily traffic count is 10,000 vehicles or less. The corridor how handles 19,000 a day, he said.

Myers presented a number of options to the City Council, including a plan inspired by a recent suggestion from Councilman George Poe that traffic in the south and northbound left lanes must turn at the monument crossing where Eighth Street meets Ocoee Street.

Such a measure would prevent motorists from using the southbound left lane, which begins right before the crossing point, as a chance to accelerate into downtown and potentially collide with crossing motorists, Poe said.

He has described the crossway as a "deathtrap" that was designed for horses and buggies and cannot accommodate modern vehicle needs.

Twenty accidents have occurred in the area in the last five years, Myers said.

Poe said traffic lights have been installed and later removed from the crossway twice previously.

Myers said he will put the matter before Knoxville civil engineering consultant firm Cannon & Cannon for recommendations.

"That way we know what can be done out there, what will be acceptable and what will function the best," he said. "We don't want to install something out there that won't function right."

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