Pikeville seeks traffic signals for problem intersections

Pikeville seeks traffic signals for problem intersections

May 2nd, 2013 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Illustration by Laura McNutt /Times Free Press.

Jennifer Flynn of TDOT

Jennifer Flynn of TDOT

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Pikeville, Tenn., officials hope to gain approval for two new traffic signals on the town's stretch of U.S. Highway 127 to slow motorists and improve safety, especially for school traffic on the south end of town.

"We've got two very bad places," Pikeville Mayor Philip Cagle said this week. City officials recently passed resolutions seeking the signals.

Cagle said one of the intersections is where Cleveland Avenue intersects the U.S. 127 bypass, which has four lanes plus a turn lane for motorists to navigate if they're crossing from downtown to the industrial park on the west side.

A new service station nearby adds traffic, and Cagle noted that if tenants are found for available properties in the town's industrial park, traffic could increase dramatically through that intersection.

The other spot is where Highway 30 meets U.S. Highway 127 on the south end of town. Morning traffic from Pikeville Elementary School is dangerous for drivers turning south from Highway 30 to U.S. 127, Cagle said.

Pikeville's traffic patterns shifted from downtown over to the new four-lane bypass when it was completed in 2004. Tennessee Department of Transportation figures show traffic through town dropped from 11,000 cars a day to 325 the day the bypass opened.

TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said state engineers' recent studies show traffic volumes declined 7 percent between 2009 and 2011 based on two recent studies in Pikeville, which makes it "highly unlikely that traffic volumes on U.S. 127 would warrant a traffic signal at either location."

City officials can request a new study to see if volumes have increased, Flynn said. Traffic lights such as those proposed cost about $125,000 apiece.

Police Chief Ronnie Byrd said the four-way stop signs in town handle traffic just fine, but the now-busier intersections at Cleveland Avenue and Highway 30 need signals.

"I know we just have a lot of problems there in accidents," Byrd said of the Cleveland Avenue crossing. "I know a couple of months ago we had four or five wrecks in less than a month."

And northbound traffic approaching the U.S. 127-Highway 30 intersection near Pikeville Elementary has a dangerous approach, he said.

Cagle vowed to pursue the signals.

"I'm dead set on doing whatever we've got to do to get traffic lights," he said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.