Cleveland turns down plans to add lanes to intersection

Cleveland turns down plans to add lanes to intersection

October 9th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

The intersection of North Ocoee Street and 25th Street in Cleveland, Tenn., is scheduled for new turn lanes, according to TDOT.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The City Council turned down a plan Monday to add lanes to the intersection at North Ocoee and 25th streets.

After business property owners around the busy intersection expressed concern about the Tennessee Department of Transportation's original plan to add turn lanes,

TDOT representatives were back Monday with two alternatives.

But business owners, concerned about a two-year traffic disruption and temporarily losing customer parking spaces, were back as well.

At the council meeting, TDOT Design Engineer Robert Rodgers said the original plan added both right- and left-turn lanes, and buying the rights-of-way would cost about $6.2 million.

One alternative keeps only the double left-turn lanes in each direction, he said, while the second would have no left-turn lanes.

Either one would cost about $5.8 million in right-of-way costs, he said.

Looking 20 years ahead, Rodgers said the original plan would have motorists waiting an average of 125.6 seconds to get through the intersection during afternoon traffic.

Doing nothing now would mean an estimated 220.7 seconds during afternoon traffic, he said.

The first alternative would delay motorists in 2033 with a 188.7-second wait, he said, while the second alternative would cut that wait to 116.7 seconds.

"So 20 years from now, if we don't spend $6 million now, people will have to wait an extra [traffic light] cycle?" asked Councilman Richard Banks. "Like you do now on Keith Street."

Councilman George Poe said the traffic backups northbound on North Ocoee now are because of traffic signal timing.

"We have a massive backup," he said.

The unanimous decision to forgo any changes to the intersection at this point came after City Manager Janice Casteel said that was the recommendation from the city's staff. She said there is no way to pay the city's 20 percent commitment for the state grant. TDOT would cover the remaining 80 percent.

Rodgers said that, if the city waits and simply places its project in the hopper with other statewide projects, at some point the state might pay 100 percent.

"That's why we want to go a little slow," Mayor Tom Rowland said.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.