CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland Utilities officials have plans for improving traffic flow and safety for the city’s three interchanges with Interstate 75.
On Thursday, the utility board discussed projects and studies intended to mitigate interstate closures, alleviate movie theater traffic at exit 20, and revamp school crossings at Mouse Creek Road and Paul Huff Parkway.
A recent rush-hour automobile accident, which closed the northbound lanes of I-75 only a few miles north of the Paul Huff Parkway exit, has prompted a closer look at how the utility deals with such issues going forward, said Bart Borden, manager of the utility’s electric division.
The city’s Intelligent Traffic System currently has no emergency programming and no agency informed Cleveland Utilities of the interstate shutdown.
Two things were in the utility’s favor, advised Borden: previous traffic timing changes implemented along the 25th Street and Paul Huff Parkway corridors and the quick response of a utility engineer who tweaked the signal system to accommodate the unplanned rush hour exodus.
It is estimated that a study to implement emergency program settings would cost the city $40,000, said Borden.
“Even without the full-blown study, we’ve already made some improvements and they seem to help the roads clear,” said Cleveland Utilities General Manager Tom Wheeler of the prior signal synchronizations on Paul Huff Parkway and 25th Street.
In the meantime, notification is key, said Borden. The electric division is working with E-911, the Cleveland Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Transportation to work out a notice system for Interstate closures that affect Cleveland exits.
Borden also said movie patrons should see better evening flow when leaving Premier Theater, located at exit 20 on I-75.
A new timing plan has been set for the period of 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the exit’s traffic signal, said Borden. The nightly alteration gives more time to eastbound traffic crossing the interchange.
A major change along Paul Huff Parkway will be the removal of the school crossing zone which encompasses an area on both sides of its intersection with Mouse Creek Road, announced Borden.
The flashing zone signs, meant to service E.L. Ross and Yates Elementary Schools, will be placed along a stretch of Mouse Creek Road only, said Borden. Utility officials are reviewing signal placement with Duracell facility management regarding the matter.
“I know we’ve talked to the principal, the crossing guards, the police — everyone is much in favor of this change,” said Borden.
The school zone change complies with regulations and will improve traffic flow on Paul Huff Parkway, said Borden.