If an increasing number of traffic lights is an indicator of municipal size, then Cleveland’s days as a small town — at least, in the eyes of some — are beginning to flash red.
And the count just keeps growing.
Two groups know it best: motorists who are finding their drive times through the city to be taking longer and longer, and Cleveland Utilities, the service provider that inherited the thankless task of maintaining the traffic signal network a couple of years ago.
“Our traffic light responsibilities are growing rapidly,” said Bart Borden, vice president of CU’s Electric Division which oversees the ever-expanding fleet of overhead traffic monitors.
Borden, who updates the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities monthly on the status of traffic studies, motorist flow along some of the city’s busiest arteries and signalization upgrades confirmed recently that Cleveland Utilities is now maintaining 71 traffic signals, four flashing signals and five school zone signal locations.
Six more traffic signals are being proposed. And that’s just for the city.
“We also maintain seven traffic signals, one flashing signal and 32 school zone locations for Bradley County, with four proposed traffic signal locations,” Borden told CU board members in a recent gathering.
New traffic signals proposed for inside the city include two at APD-40 and Stone Lake Road, 20th St. NE exit ramp from APD-40, King Street at APD-40, Michigan Avenue Road at Benton Pike, and McGrady Drive and Young Road.
In county areas, proposed traffic signals hoping for a green light include Lauderdale Memorial Highway at Highway 11, and two at Exit 33 and Interstate 75. One for the Wacker Polysilicon North America complex on Highway 308 is now in operation.
“At the Wacker plant entrance, the [Tennessee Department of Transportation] contractor — NABCO Electric — placed the new traffic signal into service at the Wacker plant entrance and Highway 308,” Borden said. “The contractor will be responsible for maintaining the signal for one year and then Cleveland Utilities will assume those responsibilities and will bill Bradley County for any maintenance.”
Borden also spoke on a pair of the traffic signal proposals for the city.
Of the newly proposed traffic signals at King Street and APD-40, and at the 20th St. NE exit ramp on the east side of APD-40, Borden said Cleveland Utilities learned of these requests at the Sept. 23 session of the Cleveland City Council.
“At the request of state Rep. Eric Watson, the Tennessee Department of Transportation hired Arcadis to perform a warrant analysis at APD-40 and King Street, and also at 20th Street and State Route 60’s northbound ramp terminus,” Borden explained. “The results showed that both locations could warrant a signal and TDOT is proposing that the city of Cleveland approve their installation.”
Borden said each contractor-installed traffic signal will cost approximately $100,000 and will be placed on the city’s investment charge for maintenance.
While Cleveland Utilities is keeping an eye to the skies for future traffic signals, crews are also staying focused on existing corridor studies — such as 25th Street — while continuing to tweak recent cycle changes in the hopes of maximizing traffic flow.
“Cleveland Utilities and Cannon & Cannon (Knoxville traffic engineering consultant) continue to make minor adjustments to initial timing plans to the 25th Street corridor,” Borden cited. “Changes included a slightly longer time for eastbound 25th Street turning northbound movement at Peerless Road during two of the cycles.”
The tweaks also include a revised afternoon plan at Ocoee Street for Ocoee Middle School, and a separate plan for Fridays and for Monday through Thursday, Borden explained.
“Travel time runs were taken to compare against those taken before the new timing plans were installed,” Borden said. “The data was compiled in October.”
He said the information should be presented to the utility board at its next meeting.
Borden also provided the utility board with updates on an array of Electric Division projects, including ongoing work on the new District Substation on 9th Street, continuing progress on the Durkee Road and Benton Pike intersection in conjunction with a TDOT road widening to better service the new Whirlpool Cleveland Division plant and Factory Distribution Center, as well as others.
He also reported on Phase II of the Brookes Edge Apartments on Adkisson Drive, the TDOT APD-40 interchange at Stone Lake Road, Phase II of the Silver Springs development, a new Discount Tire Center east of Hobby Lobby on Stuart Road, the new Jenkins Restaurant in the Spring Creek development, new parking lot lighting at Cleveland High School, and the installation of permanent electric service for the Jones Airways Hanger at the Cleveland Regional Jetport.
Borden also spoke briefly on the Georgetown Road widening project by TDOT.
“Engineering Department personnel attended a TDOT field review meeting in Chattanooga for the Georgetown Road widening project,” he said. “The project will four-lane the highway from Davis Circle NW to Hopewell Drive west of Freewill Road. This project is in competition with another TDOT project for funding and would be three to four years away from construction, if approved.”
In other developments at the recent CU board session:
n Approved a purchase order with Hampton Backhoe Service in the amount of $54,399.36 for additional cost to install an 8-inch sanitary sewer line along Durkee Road NE. TDOT will fund 50 percent of the project cost.
n Approved dates and times for the board’s next two formal sessions. These include Thursday, Dec. 5, at noon at the Tom Wheeler Training Center; and Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, at 3 p.m., also in the training center.