published Sunday, December 16th, 2012

City of Chattanooga eyeing more traffic roundabouts


Roundabout at Jersey Pike/Hancock Road

• Roundabout at Norcross/Gadd roads

• Widening Gunbarrel north of Shallowford

• Widening Shallowford Road from Airport Road to Jersey Pike

Source: Chattanooga engineer's office

Would you like to see more roundabouts?

Let's hope folks in the Highway 58 area are enjoying their new traffic roundabout at Oakwood Drive; they're going to get another one at Hancock Road.

And for those who sit — and sit, and sit — on Norcross Drive waiting to turn left on Gadd Road, relief is on the horizon, also in the form of a roundabout.

But not right away.

Those Chattanooga projects, plus widening work planned for Shallowford and Gunbarrel roads, are only in the very early stages, assistant city engineer Dennis Malone said Friday. The roundabouts are probably at least a year off, and the Shallowford project, between Airport Road and Jersey Pike, is at least three years away, he said.

"The [widening projects] are traffic capacity projects dealing with having more lanes to move traffic," Malone said.

As for the roundabouts, "one of them is traffic calming, the one at Jersey and Hancock. There have been several accidents there with people trying to turn. The other is more of an intersection improvement, just helping that traffic to flow better," he said.

Last week, the city's purchasing department advertised requests for qualifications for professional services on all four projects.

Artie Pritchard in the purchasing department said responses are due Jan. 4. The City Council will choose engineers among those firms for to design the projects, and then the work will be bid out, Pritchard said.

The city's traffic engineering office likes roundabouts for a number of reasons, said assistant traffic engineer Jason Yakimowich.

Stop signs and traffic lights are choke points, he said, whereas vehicles never stop moving through roundabouts, which means less air pollution. Low speeds and the lack of angles mean fewer chances for serious crashes, he said.

"You just don't have as many points of conflict in the intersection," Yakimowich said.

Malone said the Gunbarrel Road widening, from Shallowford north to McCutcheon, will improve traffic access and flow to the Waterside development where an Embassy Suites hotel and Ruth's Chris steakhouse are under construction.

He said construction, paid for by all-local funds, could start in late summer 2013 and will take about six months.

The Shallowford project, the last segment left to widen on that road, will be 80 percent federally funded. It will require rebuilding of two bridges and intersection improvements at Cromwell Road, Malone said.

Construction is probably about three years off, after design, environmental studies and right of way acquisition, he said.

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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