Proposed subdivision near Hixson Pike's 'S curves' raises safety concerns

Proposed subdivision near Hixson Pike's 'S curves' raises safety concerns

September 12th, 2017 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

All lanes are blocked on Hixson Pike at Olde Towne Lane in the "S curves" after a multi-vehicle crash Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.

Photo by Sara Jackson /Times Free Press.

A proposal to build a new 21-unit subdivision off Hixson Pike near the so-called "S curves" was endorsed by a planning group Monday, though some neighbors raised safety concerns.

Jeffery Gefter, who lives in the nearby Olde Towne subdivision, cited eight traffic deaths that have occurred at the Hixson Pike site over the years. He also mentioned an accident involving his daughter at the location that demolished the car though spared her life.

Gefter called for a new traffic study at the 3200 Hixson Pike location and mentioned the building of a potential left turn lane.

Future accidents could put the city "at jeopardy for millions of dollars," he said at a meeting of the Chattanooga- Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission. In 2015, the city paid a $150,000 settlement related to a fatal 2003 traffic accident at the Hixson Pike S curves.

Blythe Bailey, administrator of the Chattanooga Department of Transportation and a planning panel member, said his agency would review past traffic studies of the Hixson Pike site before the new subdivision proposal comes before the City Council on Oct. 10.

"We don't take [Gefter's] comments lightly," Bailey said.

Gabe Thomas, who requested a special permit for the project for developer ECGT LLC, said the group would keep the 21-lot single family subdivision "consistent with Olde Towne."

He said plans would be to keep as many trees as possible, particularly in the rear of the houses.

"It would give us a good buffer," said Thomas, noting plans are to build a private road into the subdivision from Hixson Pike.

Gefter said Planning Commission Chairman Ethan Collier has an interest in the proposed project. Collier, a local developer, didn't take part in the project's discussion or the vote and turned the meeting over to commission member Todd Leamon for that period.

"I've got no fight with Mr. Collier or his development group," Gefter said. "This unique traffic situation demands more study."

Gefter added that because off the slope of the property, there would be a lot of water runoff and hurt Olde Towne property values.

According to the Commission staff, which recommended approval of the permit, an application for a preliminary plat was approved at the same site for 37 lots a few years ago. But that application expired and nothing was built.

Thomas said the development group would conform to city transportation requirements to meet "all traffic concerns."

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


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