CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A traffic study of the intersection of Highland Avenue and Eighth Street suggests a number of road changes just short of a four-way stop.
On Monday, Cleveland leaders discussed the issue with Alan Childers, a consultant with Knoxville-based civil engineering firm Cannon & Cannon Inc. who conducted the study. The intersection has been described by City Councilman Bill Estes as a dangerous mixture of speeding vehicles, heavy pedestrian traffic and limited sight distances.
"I want to stop short of recommending [a four-way stop] at this point, because I think you can address the issues with less stringent measures," Childers said. "I think that would be a final conclusion probably."
He recommended three courses of actions intended to mitigate the site's problems: hedge trimming along the Eighth Street approach to the intersection, signs warning that Highland Avenue traffic does not stop and a school crosswalk.
The intersection often is traversed by students going to and from Arnold Elementary School, which is a few blocks away on Eighth Street. Estes has expressed concern over children crossing the intersection in the dark morning hours.
"This is a great first step, and we'll keep an eye on it over the next few years for accidents," Estes said.
The intersection, which has received heightened attention in recent weeks after a vehicle collision that resulted in damage to a home's basement and gas line, does not meet the typical vehicle volume criteria for implementing a four-way stop, according to the traffic study.
Implementing a four-way stop at Highland Avenue and Eighth Street could prove more detrimental to public safety, said Childers, who cited studies performed at similar low-volume intersections protected by four-way stops.
Drivers' reactions to four-way stops where they may be perceived as unnecessary nuisances include increasing vehicle speeds after stopping or simply ignoring the signs all together. The potential for disaster escalates when children assume cars will stop and they walk into the road, Childers said.
However, the crash data for the intersection exceeds what Tennessee Department of Transportation surveys calculate for similar-sized intersections of comparable traffic volume.
"There's a crash issue here," said Childers, who remarked that the intersection of Highland Avenue and Eighth Street has had about three times as many crashes as might be expected. Its rate of crashes with injuries is about four to five times higher than expected, he said.
According to Cleveland city police records, seven crashes have occurred at the intersection in the last four years.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.