Two potential improvements to the North Ocoee and Eighth Street intersection will be sent to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for consideration.
Adding curbing to restrict the left lanes to turn-only lanes into Eighth Street and a roundabout were chosen by the Cleveland City Council during a meeting Monday as options they wanted TDOT to consider.
At-Large Councilman George Poe suggested adding the curbing as an inexpensive way to help the situation.
District 2 Councilman Bill Estes asked that the roundabout option also be taken to TDOT for consideration.
Both motions were approved unanimously.
Because North Ocoee Street is a state road, changes must be approved by TDOT.
Curbing would eliminate cars passing in the left lane near the Eighth Street intersection.
Alan Childers of the traffic control division of Cannon & Cannon Inc. presented a number of possible solutions to the Council.
He said there had been 30 right-angle crashes at the intersection in the past five years.
“[These] tend to be the most severe crashes,” Childers said.
He said 80 percent of those crashes were people turning out of the small section of Eighth Street near the monument located there.
Childers said this small section of street makes the area function more like two intersections than just one. He commented that traffic waiting to turn in the left lane makes it difficult for drivers to see and may be contributing to the accidents. Using curbing would not necessarily solve this site distance issue.
Using a mini-roundabout, a concrete circle that cars would have to go around in order to turn, was not recommended for the site. Childers said using a mini-roundabout would mean the monument would have to be moved to allow trucks to drive over the concrete circle. A larger roundabout would keep the monument at the intersection with a sloped curb around it to allow trucks to be able to make the turn.
Childers presented a roundabout concept that would also use a “splinter island” of concrete to divide the turning in and turning out lanes for each street.
He explained that cars already in the roundabout would have the right of way.
Childers said at peak traffic times there are about 1,400 cars at the location, based on his traffic count.
City manager Janice Casteel pointed out the traffic study was done when school was not in session.
“I really wish I could come in here and say, ‘This is it. It’s an inexpensive alternative and it will work.’ Unfortunately, I didn’t find that. Each of these have pluses and minuses,” Childers said.
A 120- to 140-foot wide roundabout would be needed if one were used at the site. This option would necessitate acquiring rights of way on properties adjoining the intersection. Work would also need to be done to change existing sidewalks.
Childers said the city might be able to qualify for a TDOT “spot safety grant” based on the numbers of accidents at the intersection.
Concern about the intersection has risen after an accident at the site damaged the monument, which was erected in 1890 in memory of three residents who lost their lives in a train crash. The Council has already approved repairing the monument.