published Friday, March 9th, 2012

Prospect Elementary School traffic solutions sought

Paul Leach/Correspondent

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley County leaders want drivers to slow down in the vicinity of Prospect Elementary School.

County commissioners met this week with school, law enforcement and roads officials to address safety concerns involving traffic flow around the school.

"I don't think there is anything better that we can do than protect our kids in our school zones," said Capt. W.G. Campbell of the Bradley County Sheriff's Office.

Officials met in response to a letter sent by a resident that noted several factors affecting visibility and driving conditions near the school, especially at the intersection of Freewill Road and Harrison Pike.

The letter cited irregular and sharp curves as contributing to "hazardous situations" when children enter and leave school premises by car or on foot and when school buses transfer middle and high school students at the school.

The panel recommended several remedies for improving traffic control in the area, such as employing a crossing guard and lowering speed limits on nearby roads.

"I think a crossing guard would give us the relief we need," said Steve Montgomery, principal of Prospect Elementary.

Officials suggested that the speed limit for Freewill Road, now set at 45 mph, be reduced to 35 mph between Hensley Road and Harrison Pike.

Montgomery said a permanent, all-hours speed-limit reduction would be beneficial to the community, not just to parents and children during school drop-off and pick-up hours. He said many children use the school playground after hours, and the school hosts a number of evening sporting events.

"My recommendation would be for it to be year-round, so that way parents get used to it, everybody gets used to it," Montgomery said. "It's not a long stretch of road."

Officials also recommended reducing the speed limit on Prospect School Road to 15 mph.

The panel also would like to reduce speeds on Harrison Pike to 35 mph in the vicinity of its intersection with Freewill Road. However, since the road forms part of State Route 312, officials said they would need to make that request to the state.

Although a full-fledged traffic signal to replace the caution signal at the intersection of Freewill Road and Harrison Pike is not in the works, Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins said the area's development may have increased the traffic volume enough to merit one. A state traffic study of the intersection, conducted more than 10 years ago, indicated a traffic signal was not needed.

The road committee also discussed researching the feasibility of installing a sidewalk between the school and Harrison Pike.

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

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