City tries to smoothe Amazon traffic flow

City tries to smoothe Amazon traffic flow

November 30th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

An employee works at an Amazon distribution center in Fernley, Nev. Contributed Photo

An employee works at an Amazon distribution center...

Chattanooga officials have taken steps to ease traffic congestion at Enterprise South industrial park as staffing has been ramped up at Amazon's distribution center.

With Volkswagen up to two shifts and more than 2,500 people at its nearby Chattanooga plant, the addition of Amazon's more than 2,000 workers prompted officials to take steps to smooth out traffic.

"It's all brand new and we're trying to make some changes that are helpful," said Steve Leach, the city's public works administrator.

Leach said officials came up with measures that are both short and long term.

Since Amazon's peak season is through the holidays, the city took action such as laying down traffic cones and putting up signs to direct vehicle flow especially in the afternoons from 4 to 6:30, he said.

"It will help employees make an adjustment to their commuting pattern," Leach said. "It gives priority to the flow coming out of Amazon."

Also, a police officer is helping motorists get through the traffic light more easily at the industrial park's entrance and exit at Volkswagen Drive and Bonny Oaks Drive, he said.

Bill Payne, city engineer, also said signs are directing workers down Discovery Drive, which connects with Hickory Valley Road and to another exit from the industrial park, onto Bonny Oaks Drive.

Long-term, Leach said, the city plans to add another lane leading to one of the traffic circles on VW Drive.

"That's one we'll have to build," he said. "It's a good problem to have."

Sanjay Shah, the Chattanooga fulfillment center's general manager, said city officials have been "incredibly supportive of Amazon and have helped us bring thousands of jobs to the area. We look forward to continuing to contribute to positive growth in the community."

Leach said city officials met with Amazon on Nov. 18 as the company was increasing hiring at a rapid rate.

Amazon has said it wants to hire 4,500 workers at its Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., distribution centers by the end of this year for the busy holiday season.

Amazon is investing about $139 million in the two distribution centers.