TDOT Pushes Back
The Target Date
Until At Least 2014
BY KEN LITTLE
Anticipated improvements at the dangerous intersection of U.S. 11E and Bridge Burners Boulevard aren't scheduled to happen until 2014, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said this week.
The intersection, which has been the site of two fatal crashes in the last two years, is heavily traveled by trucks coming and going from the nearby Walmart Distribution Center, which is off Bridge Burners Boulevard in Midway.
More information about additional work at the intersection should be known by later this month, when a draft report finalizing intersection improvement plans should be released, TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi said.
Eight signs were installed at the intersection in July.
Four face traffic approaching from Greeneville, and four other signs face vehicles coming from the direction of Bulls Gap and Interstate 81's Exit 23.
TDOT officials said the installation of the signs was the first phase of a series of safety improvements at the intersection.
The next phase of the project is projected to add an additional lane to Bridge Burners Boulevard, along with roadway improvements allowing for acceleration/deceleration of trucks entering and exiting 11E, Nagi said.
"We anticipate this project being included in a 2014 bid letting," Nagi said in an e-mail response to questions about the project.
Nagi cited one reason for the delay in project completion.
"The project has been delayed so that we could address the concerns of property-owners. We are making final revisions based on those conversations," Nagi said.
Specifically, Nagi said there is at least one property-owner "concerned about access to his property" with the planned safety improvements.
TDOT officials have met several times since July to review the draft report for improvements at the intersection.
One of the planned improvements is closing the median opening, or crossover, at Cresthaven Lane, a side street off 11E across the highway and a short distance from Bridge Burners Boulevard.
Officials said this summer that the draft report finalizing intersection improvement plans would be complete in August. It is still not finished.
"We are making final revisions based on those conversations (with property-owners), and we will have the report complete in November," Nagi said.
While TDOT anticipates the improvement project's being included in a 2014 bid letting, Nagi was noncommittal about when work would actually begin.
"We do not have a schedule currently for the delivery of the project. However, the project will have an aggressive schedule for a quick delivery (when bid)," Nagi said.
TDOT officials said this summer that construction bid-letting for the project would likely happen this fall.
Town of Mosheim officials have long advocated safety improvements at the intersection. Vice-Mayor Tommy Gregg said this week that it was also his understanding that construction bids would be let by October.
"The quicker they move on it, the better off they're going to be as far as the safety standpoint goes," Gregg said.
He's aware of discussions with property-owners concerned with eliminating the existing 11E crossover.
Even so, Gregg was surprised to hear the work may not begin until 2014.
"I was under the impression it was going to go pretty quick," he said. "In either case, I think as quickly as they can get something going there, the better off we will be. We're getting into the rainy and foggy season."
Proposed improvements would include flashing traffic lights when tractor-trailers come through the intersection, and would also widen the median and the merge lane on the roadway to provide more room for the big trucks while turning.
"The sooner the better," Gregg said. "We don't really need any more fatalities there."
2 KILLED IN APRIL
The most recent fatality at the intersection occurred April 1, when 45-year-old Zu J. Wang and a 4-month-old infant died when the sport utility vehicle Wang was driving crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer in heavy fog.
Wang was the owner of the China Buffet restaurant in Greeneville.
Despite delays in improvements at the intersection, Nagi said TDOT is mindful of the conditions there.
"The safety of the motoring public is of the utmost importance. There have been two fatal crashes at that intersection, both involving trucks," he said.