published Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Bradley County road panel to review safety near Prospect Elementary School

Paul Leach/Correspondent

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County commissioners have asked that the panel's Road Committee address traffic safety concerns involving Prospect Elementary School and establish guidelines on right-of-way procedures for old, rural roads.

At Monday's meeting, 1st District Commissioners Ed Elkins and Terry Caywood said they had received a letter about safety around Prospect Elementary. A key concern was the intersection of Freewill Road and Harrison Pike near the school.

Elkins recommended a traffic survey to determine if a traffic signal should be placed there. The intersection has a caution signal.

Caywood said he had watched traffic at the Harrison Pike intersection and saw several cars that went faster than the posted limit.

Another problem, Elkins said, is a curve that obscures the intersection of Prospect School Road and Freewill Road.

"A big bus pulling out of there, it takes awhile to make the turn and get into the flow of traffic," he said. "People speeding down there, coming around that curve, could very easily hit a bus or if there's any students walking across there [hit them]."

Elkins asked the Road Committee to invite all recipients of the letter -- including several road, school and law enforcement officials -- to a meeting to resolve the issue.

Commissioners also discussed safety on the other end of Freewill Road where trees obscure the intersection with Elkmont Road.

County road department officials would like to remove a number of trees within 17 feet of the road along a 100-foot stretch of property owned by Jerry DeVane. DeVane has asked the county to bear the expense of replacing sections of a livestock fence that would have to be removed with the trees.

The county has proposed replacing up to $1,000 in barbed wire fencing in exchange for the right of way.

However, Road Superintendent Tom Collins said the county already has the right of way extending to 33 feet. Collins cited records dating back to 1930.

If the county concedes that DeVane owns the property and agrees to replace fencing, it should be done through a contractor, not the road department, Collins said.

Whatever settlement the county reaches with DeVane will not set a binding precedent for future right-of-way disputes, County Attorney Crystal Freiberg said.

Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford recommended the Road Committee develop criteria on rights of way for old, rural roads where the rights and obligations of the county and property owners might be unclear.

Road Committee Chairman Mel Griffith said he expects to announce meeting plans at the next County Commission session, which will be Tuesday at the county courthouse at noon.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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