Meeting in called session Tuesday afternoon, the city school board approved one of five options provided by the Tennessee Department of Transportation for a new entrance to the Georgetown Road school. The construction will be a part of the state widening of Highway 60 to four lanes.
The five options were discussed at length by E. Scott Medlin of TDOT. The state agency had four options on the table, but made some slight adjustments to No. 4 for a new No. 5, which was selected by the board after a short discussion.
The current front entrance to the school will have to give up property to the state’s widening project (Georgetown Road). The distance from the roadway to the school building will be shortened.
Where the current driveway goes down and to the right to the parking area, the new drive will go almost directly to the right to the parking area.
Medlin pointed out the state will pay for the construction of the new drive to the “touchdown” point, or at the end of the right-of-way. The drive into the parking area must be paid for by the landowner (city school system or the city). Medlin said it will probably cost $15,000 to $20,000 for this short stretch of pavement.
“We shouldn’t be in the road business,” said board member Dawn Robinson, “but it is our property.”
The selection of the No. 5 option was unanimous, although two school board members, Steven Morgan and Dr. Murl Dirksen, were unable to attend the called meeting. Voting for the new entrance plan were Board Chairman Tom Cloud, Robinson, Peggy Pesterfield, Richard Shaw and George Meacham.
Although Tuesday’s vote locks in plans for the new school entrance, Medlin emphasized construction is still in the long-term.
“We’re just now in the preliminary design (of Highway 60’s widening project)”,” Medlin said. “The right-of-way acquisition phase will be next.”
The TDOT official said it will probably be in the fall of 2013 before acquisition of property along the highway will begin.
There are many discussions on how the traffic flow will be impacted at the school, but most anticipate few difficulties. Bus traffic, with flow to the left of the building, should not change significantly.
“Widening of the road (Highway 60) should help a lot,” said Medlin.
Cleveland Middle School Principal Jeff Elliott was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but Athletic Director Scott Carroll came as the school’s representative. Carroll said the two school officials had favored Option 4, so the improvements shown in Option 5 would get their votes.
Robinson made the motion to select the final option for the design, with Pesterfield providing the second.