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Westland Drive closed through Halloween

Traffic Monday morning was heavy at the Ebenezer Road/Bluegrass Road interchange. Impatient drivers were noted cutting through the Weigel’s parking lot to access Bluegrass Road rather that waiting on the turn signal.- Dan Barile/farragutpress
Taking your child to A.L. Lotts Elementary School will continue to be a challenge for morning commuters.

The remainder of this week and all of next week is the projected span of time that Westland Drive will be closed to through traffic from Ebenezer Road, said Jim Snowden, project engineer for the Knox County Engineering Department.

“It was the last thing we wanted to do,” Snowden said. “There are two spots on (Westland Drive) where the road has to come up eight or 10 feet in two different locations.

“And with the right of way that we have, which is the right of way for a three-lane road, to put that amount of fill in and still maintain two lanes of traffic, with only three lanes of right of way, is physically impossible.”

Snowden said in order to get those fills in and get the road bed up to where it need to be, “we had to shut it down.”

Snowden added that the fill work is “90 to 95 percent in,” and with the rate of work being completed the two-week shutdown looks to be on schedule.

Deputy Sgt. Paul Story of the Knox County Sheriff’s Department said the plan for the morning commute is “prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.”

Story said Westland Drive between Shadowbrook and Ebenezer Road would be closed for two weeks, “and effectively that cuts off a lot of the path that most people travel to pick up their children or take them to school,” thus resulting in a detour for morning commuters.

Story said the detour for school traffic is from “Ebenezer Road onto Bluegrass Road, west on Bluegrass to Mournfield Road, then north on Mournfield to Westland Drive, and then from there it’s just a short drive east on Westland to the school campus.”

Story added that the Knox County Sheriff’s Department was going to do everything it can to make it as safe as possible.

“To make it more expedient to everyone, we’re going to have a couple of officers stationed on the school campus to regulate the flow of traffic coming in and going out of the school.”

He said there would also be two officers in the intersection of Westland Drive and Mournfield Road, and “they are going to be actively controlling that intersection, physically controlling it.”

He added that three officers would also be stationed at various points on the detour to ensure that there are no bad traffic problems, back-ups, or any other problems that may arise.

“We’re going to load it up with as many people as we think we have to have just to make sure that it goes smoothly,” he said.

Story said that he was aware that the detour was going to add more traffic to the already congested Westland Drive/Bluegrass Road intersection by Bluegrass Elementary School.

“I know it’s going to feed more traffic into that area,” he said, “that’s why we have stationed those extra people in the Bluegrass area, just in case. They (Bluegrass Elementary) have a person directing traffic. If need be, we will have someone controlling that intersection.”

Story said if a “problem does come about, then we’re just going to pounce on it and try to solve it just as quickly as possible. As soon as it becomes a problem we’re going to fix it.”

He said the KCSD has been planning all week to come up with the best solutions, and “I think what we’ve got right now is the best until we know what’s going to happen.”

Story added that “one thing that would help us immensely is that the people who travel that area would try to leave five to 10-minutes, maybe 15-minutes, early and just work with us.

“Emotions get high when you get caught in traffic and you’re trying to get your child to school, or get to work. We ask that drivers please be patient,” he said.

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