Tennessee Temple relocation would not clog roads, supporters say

Tennessee Temple relocation would not clog roads, supporters say

April 15th, 2014 by Alex Green in Business Around the Region

Tennessee Temple University Executive Vice President Dr. Byron E. Edens, right, leans in to speak with Woodland Park Baptist Church Administrative Pastor Steven McCary Monday during the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission meeting. The longtime Highland Park school wants to move to the campus of the Church in East Brainerd.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Property owned by Woodland Park Baptist Church in Tyner could be a possible future home of Tennessee Temple University.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Document: Woodlandpark/Tennessee Temple

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

Looks like there will be a traffic study after all as Tennessee Temple talks with Woodland Park Baptist Church about moving the Highland Park university across town to share a suburban space in Tyner.

At Monday's planning commission meeting, representatives of Woodland Park came ready to answer questions about the traffic concerns planning staff cited in their recommendation to planning commissioners regarding the proposed 160-acre school and church combo.

Steve Carroll, principal architect at Rardin and Carroll Architects, told planning commissioners that if Temple and Woodland Park agree to combine their campuses in Tyner, it would be "a very low-impact development."

He said Temple's intention is to grow slowly, aiming for 800 students in 15 years. And the project is to grow out over a total period of 25 years, he said.

Stephen Meyer, branch manager of Alfred Benesch Engineering, brought numbers that he said refuted claims that bringing Temple to Tyner would clog up Hickory Valley and Standifer Gap Roads.

He projected that in 2015, when the site would open, only 440 additional trips per day would be added on the roads around Woodland Baptist Church.

That compares with about 2,500 trips per day that are made now, Meyer said. Adding the projected Temple numbers only brings that number up by 18 percent for Hickory Valley and Standifer Gap combined.

Meyer said that's still below the maximum capacity of 3,600 vehicles the roads can handle.

"This is a very small addition to the route," he said.

Jan Pass, from Passpointe Engineering, also spoke on Woodland Park's behalf Monday, saying that despite planning staff recommendations, a CARTA transit route runs within a mile of the potential university campus.

But a few residents from the area made the trip to voice their objections and perceived traffic woes.

Nan Zamata, who lives on Midfield Drive, said the Tyner area has building "all the time.

"Building in Ooltewah, and people are going to be using this part of Lee Highway and getting to Lee Highway and Bonny Oaks, and if you've ever been up there, it's a mess," she said.

Georgia Eastman, who lives on Marco Court, said her neighborhood has one entrance and exit, and it's on Standifer Gap Road.

"So if the traffic is pretty dense along there, we have to sit and wait a long time to get into and out of our neighborhood," she said. "We certainly think that a traffic survey is essential."

She said on Sunday mornings, it's hard to travel Standifer Gap, as church traffic empties out.

"And people who are already travelling on Standifer Gap Road, and that isn't right," she said. "Traffic should be free-flowing."

Planning commissioners and the applicant agreed to have a city traffic survey done and reviewed in return for the project's favorable vote in the meeting.

The project will next undergo a study by the city's traffic department then go before City Council.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.