Council debates junction changes
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
May 28, 2014 | 775 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nicholas Lillios
Nicholas Lillios
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The Historic Cleveland Neighborhood Association presented a potential solution to traffic accidents at the intersection of Eighth and North Ocoee streets during the Cleveland City Council meeting Tuesday.

The association had voted and approved a resolution asking the Council to restore the monument and to consider the installation of a mini-roundabout at the intersection.

Association board member Nicholas Lillios said the option is used when a smaller road crosses a major road.

“Once the monument was toppled we thought there is an opportunity here that did not exist a few years ago when this was discussed,” Lillios said.

He said the change in ownership of the Monument Building and the fact that work had to done on the monument that had been damaged created the opportunity.

A mini-roundabout would not affect as many property owners as a large roundabout would. Lillios said the mini-roundabout could be constructed in such a way that would allow tractor-trailers to ride up onto a raised curb while turning, if necessary.

How such a modification would affect school bus traffic was a concern for Council members.

Later, during the Council’s voting session, Public Works Director Tommy Myers said the Federal Highway Administration recommends that a roundabout be used in intersections with less than 10,000 cars a day.

“Our average out there is 19,000 cars a day,” Myers said of the intersection.

The Council delayed a motion to take a plan to the Tennessee Department of Transportation so that more information could be obtained. Myers will be gathering information and talking with an architect who has designed roundabouts in the past. Myers plans to present his findings to the Council at a later date.

“That way we will know what can be done out there … and what will function the best, Myers said.

Any modifications the Council wishes to approve will have to be approved by TDOT before they can be implemented.

According to Myers, there have been 20 accidents at the intersection in the past five years.

District 4 Councilman David May asked if drivers not being able to see oncoming traffic was contributing to accidents. Myers said cars often get backed up on North Ocoee and Broad streets waiting to turn into the section of Eighth Street that connects the two. This creates a hazard because drivers trying to cross either of the streets from the section of Eighth Street cannot see oncoming traffic in the far lane.

Since a recent accident at the intersection caused a driver to hit and damage a monument, a stop sign has replaced the yield sign for those on Eighth Street getting ready to cross North Ocoee Street.

One suggested solution to the intersection issues would be to eliminate the left lane on Broad Street until past the intersection and the Monument Building.

“That eliminates the stacking in this lane where they don’t have to look through cars, but the only problem we have seen with that … is if the cars do get backed up here, you’re backing up on Ocoee Street,” Myers said.

Putting a stop line on the pavement for the turning lanes to prevent cars from halfway turning onto Eight Street when there is not enough room could also elevate some of the issues. Myers said this would not solve sight distance issues.

Another option would be to only allow cars on that section of Eighth Street to turn onto North Ocoee and Broad streets, rather than letting them go straight.

“I had so many calls from Centenary [Ave.], Bowman [Ave.] and Sixth [Street] … any change there would greatly increase traffic in those areas,” District 2 Councilman Bill Estes said.

May said he had also been contacted by people on Eighth Street who were concerned a section of their street might be closed.

“This intersection was designed when there were horses and buggies there in the 1800s. Traffic is faster now. I don’t think slowing it down or having two left turn lanes is going to paralyze anyone,” said At-Large Councilman George Poe.

Putting traffic lights at the intersection was mentioned by Myers as a more expensive option. Poe said he was not in favor of the measure because a traffic light had been at the intersection twice in the past and been removed.