Michigan Avenue Road and planned intersection improvements were among the transportation projects discussed Monday during the Cleveland City Council work session.
Public Works Director Tommy Myers said in the long term, a Transportation Planning Report should identify where additional turn lanes are needed, or maybe it would justify building three lanes between Stuart Road and Benton Pike.
“Until that time, we’re going to go out there and ‘safety the road up’ and try to get all the shoulders in good shape and hopefully not have anymore accidents out there,” he said.
Linda Hyman, who lives off of Michigan Avenue Road, said she was concerned about dump trucks speeding on the road before Jeffrey Blan Sherrill, 44, was killed March 7, in an automobile-truck accident.
“They (dump trucks) were in the middle of the road. They were doing 60 or 65 mph on that road. They’re tearing the road up. There are no edges on it or anything. The dump trucks have torn that part of it up,” she said. “The road was not a perfect road to begin with, but they have destroyed that road.”
Dump trucks traveling to and from the airport are now traveling Old Tasso Road between 20th Street and Stuart Avenue. But, Hyman does not view rerouting the trucks as a permanent solution to the problem that has only gotten worse with increased commuter traffic to the new Whirlpool plant. Residential, commuter and school buses carrying students to Michigan Avenue and Park View elementary schools all use the road.
“The road is going to have to be fixed,” she said.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said city staff has been studying the road.
“As you know, we annexed the road and inherited the problem,” the mayor said.
Myers said his crew should start working on the shoulders within the next couple of weeks if weather permits. Public Works is presently working on upgrades to drainage along McIntire Avenue that should ease flooding at the Cherokee National Forest headquarters.
“We hit rock and that’s really slowed me down,” he said.
Hyman said she realized money was tight in the paving budget and asked, “How do we raise the money to put more into that area. Are you going to let the dump trucks get back on that road or is that eliminated? That’s my main concern because if they’ve torn it up once, they’re in the middle of the road most of the time on their cellphones and going way above the speed limit. That’s just a Band-Aid to me.”
Rowland said the drivers have signed an agreement with the company not to use their cellphones while driving. He advised her to get the number on the truck.
“Well, it’s kind of hard when they are going 65 mph,” she replied.
The mayor said most of the dump truck traffic will disappear after the new airport is finished in the latter part of the year.
Hyman said, “We’ve got school children on there, school buses, it has been a disaster, total disaster. I want you to take that to heart. This is not a minor thing to the people who live there.”
Tennessee Department of Transportation design engineer Robert Rodgers presented an overview of planned intersection improvements at 25th and Ocoee streets.
TDOT was invited to a meeting after Council members recently expressed doubt about the need for such extensive modifications. Preliminary drawings show each leg will have seven 11-foot wide lanes, including a pair of through lanes in each direction, two left-turn lanes and a single auxiliary right-turn lane. The single right turn lane is the primary difference between the planned upgrades and the intersection at 25th and Keith streets.
The plans also show a retaining wall on the north side of the Walgreens pharmacy, curbs and guttering, sidewalks on each side and an update of the stormwater drainage system.
The upgrades are based on a 2004 Transportation Planning Report that showed wait time increasing. If the wait continues to get longer, then traffic will seek alternative routes. The design phase should be completed by June and TDOT’s acquisition division should begin buying right of way in January 2013. Final construction plans are scheduled for release in March 2013, with construction beginning in the summer 2013.
Rodgers said traffic volume dictates the intersection improvements. Intersection designs have a shelf life of five years.
Rowland announced Hazardous Waste Collection Day will be 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 7, at Tri-State Exhibition Center.