published Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Bradley County seeks traffic jam fix

  • photo
    Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins
    Photo by Gillian Bolsover

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The purchase of some Volunteer Energy Cooperative property may be part of a solution to relieve Hopewell Elementary traffic, which heavily congests Freewill and Georgetown roads in the mornings and afternoons.

In a recent meeting, county Commissioners Terry Caywood and Ed Elkins, who serve on a panel researching the issue, discussed the problem with fellow commissioners.

"I know there's other schools that have similar problems, but this is kind of a unique situation," Elkins said. "A very workable solution is on the table."

Tentative plans call for connecting the school campus directly to Georgetown Road with a driveway and linear parking behind the school, according to a letter submitted to the Tennessee Department of Transportation by Bradley County Schools.

The driveway would be built on the east side of the campus, between the school and the VEC office on Georgetown Road, education officials said.

An earlier discussion with a VEC official about the purchase seemed to offer hope of a solution, Elkins said.

The value of the property is uncertain, but it might have been appraised at $20,000 some years ago, Caywood said.

However, he said, the purchase of the property is not the only concern.

A proposal to connect the campus directly to Georgetown Road could be affected by state plans to widen the Georgetown Road portion of state Highway 60, he said.

Those plans call for Georgetown Road's two lanes to be replaced by five lanes plus sidewalks, curbs and guttering.

Bradley County Vice Chairman J. Adam Lowe said the situation deserves attention because there are no parallel arteries available for drivers to use as alternate routes around the traffic snarl at Hopewell Elementary.

Now, vehicle access at Hopewell Elementary only involves points on Freewill Road.

During peak traffic times, northbound vehicles on Freewill Road have to cross into the oncoming lane to bypass lines of cars waiting to pick up and drop off students, Caywood said. Such conditions could impede any emergency vehicles that need to pass through the area, he said.

"It's terrible, and it's not safe," Caywood said.

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

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