Planners tackle Georgetown Pike traffic

Planners tackle Georgetown Pike traffic

September 6th, 2012 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins

Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins

Photo by Gillian Bolsover

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Georgetown Pike traffic and development concerns have attracted the attention of local and state planning officials.

On Tuesday, the Bradley Planning Commission voted 7-1 against a rezoning request to permit commercial usage of a small parcel of land in the vicinity of Georgetown Pike and Hopewell Place.

More than half a dozen people spoke in opposition to the request. Most cited increased traffic dangers caused by mixing existing road conditions with unchecked development.

"It's just a bad place," said resident Cecil Cranfield, who said his family already had experienced two accidents while turning in and out of Hopewell Place.

The hilly nature of Georgetown Pike in the area limits the sight lines for eastbound traffic, and a nearby reduction of the 55 mph speed limit to 45 mph compounds the problem, residents said. Vehicles turning in and out of Hopewell Place regularly are subjected to rear-ending and "T-boning" incidents by eastbound traffic, they said.

While the rezoning request entailed the placement of a mini-storage facility on two lots of land near Hopewell Place, residents expressed concern that prohibitive development costs eventually would see the land turned into a retail venture under a different owner. A retail business, they said, would aggravate the traffic conditions.

Tennessee Department of Transportation plans for Georgetown Pike between Freewill Road and State Route 58 also may limit the parcel's access and appeal, Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins said.

"Engineering-wise, it will be expensive, assuming it is done right," said Elkins, who also echoed environmental concerns addressed by residents stating they believed stormwater problems would be inherent with the parcel's development.

Elkins and fellow District 1 commissioner Terry Caywood have discussed other traffic issues farther east on Georgetown Pike between Freewill Road and exit 20, the interchange with Interstate 75.

Members of the Hopewell community face grave danger when trying to access Georgetown Pike between Paul Huff Parkway and Freewill Road, Caywood said. The commissioner compared entering the highway to "taking your life into your hands."

Farther east of Paul Huff Parkway, Georgetown Pike is subjected to heavy congestion, especially when afternoon vehicle flow piles on top of Cleveland Middle School traffic, Elkins said.

In the meantime, the Bradley County Commission plans to address a TDOT initiative intended to coordinate local government and state agency objectives on the overall development of State Route 60 - which encompasses Georgetown Pike - from the Georgia state line to the Hopewell community.

The program creates a framework for local and state planners to better communicate, Bradley County Planning Director Corey Divel said.

Divel said he expected to review the program at an upcoming County Commission meeting and that he would try to clear up any existing questions about the county's participation.

The Cleveland City Council and the Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization recently adopted the coordination program.