An ad hoc committee comprised of Bradley County Commission and school board members, along with the director of schools and the Hopewell principal, decided Wednesday to proceed by essentially throwing a net over every practical alternative and see what develops.
Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel had an aerial view of the map with a “concept” of how a possible new route in front of the school might look.
He referred to the pictorial presentation 1st District Commissioner Terry Caywood, who sits on the committee, had put together concerning congestion around the school.
Caywood had previously presented a slide show of what he had observed to the County Commission a few months ago.
“We talk about the time in the morning, but it is worse at dismissal because people like to get in line early,” McDaniel said.
He noted when the school was originally constructed there was not the traffic volume there is now.
“The road hasn’t really been widened since I came here in 1977,” McDaniel said.
Caywood commented the road hadn’t been widened “since I was born.”
“The school has grown and the community has grown,” McDaniel added. “There are a lot more subdivisions off Freewill Road.”
Discussions with the schools came about as Caywood, who sits on the Corridor 60 committee, and 1st District Commissioner Ed Elkins, also on the ad hoc committee, saw an opportunity to tie in a Hopewell traffic solution with the Highway 60 project.
McDaniel said there have been discussions with TDOT officials during which school officials were “informed of the process.”
“They are still in the planning stages, and there was some discussion at their last meeting about a school board member being involved in that,” he said.
School Board members Troy Weathers and Chris Turner are serving on the ad hoc committee.
McDaniel said for the schools in particular, the matter with TDOT becomes one of road access.
“If we were going to look at a new driveway or new entryway into Hopewell Drive from Highway 60, now would be the time to be in contact with TDOT,” McDaniel said.
He said TDOT recommended the school system conduct a traffic study and bring it to them for a “discussion” to see if they would approve such a request.
Weathers asked if the traffic study, which McDaniel priced at $8,000, would be the responsibility of the schools.
For TDOT to accept such a study, it would have to be done by a TDOT-certified person in the field.
Turner noted roads superintendent-elect Sandra Knight has such certification and the study might be feasible.
Hopewell School Principal Tim Riggs had done a preliminary traffic count showing that between 7 and 7:45 a.m., there are 145 cars using the front entrance and 128 cars in the back.
From 2:45 to 3:05 p.m., there are 82 cars in the front and 98 in the back.
Caywood said the Corridor 60 committee made the decision to include a member from both school boards, but that issue was postponed until the September meeting.
McDaniel pointed out the Corridor 60 committee looks at the whole project.
The option McDaniel gave to the ad hoc committee was a rough estimate of what a new half circle around the front of the school might look like.
While just how many lanes the drive would encompass, it would necessitate using land currently owned by Volunteer Electric.
McDaniel said he talked to VEC and there seemed to be a willingness to work with the schools should that be necessary.
Elkins said his discussions with VEC involved a price and the suggestion any offer would be taken back to the VEC board.
Committee members decided to have McDaniel discuss the options with the board, as well as the traffic study expense.
However, members agreed any legitimate traffic study would have to occur during a normal school day.
That would defer a study until after the school year starts in early August.