Rodgers Group principal Garry Rodgers said his company worked hard for a couple of years to secure a development that would be good for the city. The proposed office building would be located on a 3-acre site on North Ocoee Street between Lupi’s Pizza and CVS Pharmacy. He did not identify the Chattanooga medical group that is expanding its presence to Cleveland.
He said stormwater and other basic infrastructure plans are finished and the project is in the drawing phase.
Rodgers told Council members the project cannot move forward without approval for a driveway cut on the state route.
“As you know, this is on a state route and I need TDOT’s help with respect to driveway permits. We’ve got a little easement thing we have to clear up with them. The answer I’m getting from TDOT, is they are waiting on the Council on a revised (intersection improvement) plan,” Rodgers said. “We can’t afford that. We’ve got hard dates we’ve got to hit with our medical office development.”
Mayor Tom Rowland said, “We got a big sticker shock at one time. We know something has to be done. We’re just looking forward to a smaller footprint, maybe.”
City Manager Janice Casteel said staffers are expected to review a revised plan sometime this week and return it to the Tennessee Department of Transportation with recommendations. The Council would then vote on the proposal on Oct. 8.
The Council delayed the intersection modification project at its July 9 meeting. That was the second time the Council balked at the plan in response to business and property owners who complained the two-year construction project would jeopardize businesses in the construction zone. The elected officials opted to spend $2,000 on a traffic study instead of floating a bond for about $1.2 million to buy rights of way. The original plan would have cost Cleveland Utilities $1.6 million to relocate power lines and poles.
The project to widen and add lanes to ease congestion at the busy intersection is in the design stages. At that time, the design showed each of the four legs will have seven lanes, counting a pair of through lanes in each direction, two left-turn lanes and a dedicated right-turn lane.
In another traffic-related discussion, Vice Mayor Avery Johnson said people use Rolling Hills Drive as a shortcut to Freewill Road. He said the Council has discussed speed bumps in the past.
“A lot of people say those speed bumps make so much racket they don’t want them,” he said. However, it is getting to the point that people would prefer the speed bumps because it is getting so dangerous, “they would rather have the racket than to have somebody hit.”
Police Chief Wes Snyder said he could address the problem.
“Those radar units are real quiet,” he said.
Also, traffic consultant Cannon & Cannon recommended retaining the school zone on North Lee Highway for North Lee Elementary School. However, the report recommended raising the 20 mph speed limit to 35, given the lack of school-related pedestrians.
The company also recommended not to establish a school zone in the vicinity of Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.
“We do not believe that the existing traffic conditions justify the installation of a new school zone,” the Knoxville-based firm stated in the written report. “It is our recommendation that the (existing) school zone be retained, but with a speed limit of 30 mph,” the report stated. “We also recommend that the existing overhead school flashers be retained as an effective device for communicating the presence of the school zone to drivers.”