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Make Kingston Pike like Farragut, panel says

Capt. Ben Harkins, center left, and County Commissioner-elect Mike Hammond, center right, look over street plans with panel participants.- Preston Flanders/farragutpress
Many in attendance at the Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission workshop Saturday concerning possible improvements on Kingston Pike said they would like to see more uniform signage.

Farragut resident Ben Harkins said he would like to see signage regulations similar to Farragut’s utilized on the more than 17-mile stretch.

“Farragut is tough on their signage and it shows,” Harkins said.

Harkins, a captain with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department and member of the MPC’s steering committee, was one of about 25 people who came out to voice their opinions at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church on how Kingston Pike can be improved.

The public input will be used to help develop a west city and southwest county sector plan.

“I would like to see Kingston Pike like Farragut is right now,” Harkins said. “More signage enactments like Farragut’s and 10 to 20 years down the road that would make a difference.”

MPC planner Kimberly Chamberlin, who mediated the brainstorming session for the Farragut section of Kingston Pike, agreed that signage needed to be addressed.

“I agree we have to have stricter signage,” she said. “Right now it’s just visual clutter.”

“Signage is a big issue,” said Jeff Archer, senior planner for the MPC. “We have an inconsistent program now as far as size, height and number. Gas stations are notorious for putting up a number of signs.”

“Everybody is competing for the visual attention of the driver. It can be distracting to the driver,” he added.

Archer said that lighting was another problem on Kingston Pike.

“There is some overspill of lighting,” he said. “Some businesses are not using the box lighting to keep light from overspilling into other areas.”

Harkins said there seems to be a lot of squabbling between developers and business owners with homeowners over signage in Farragut.

“Most of the complaining is done by developers and business owners, not by homeowners saying they want more signs,” he said.

Some of the discussion in the Farragut room strayed from Kingston Pike and focused on the Farragut schools.

“Farragut High School is just jam packed with vehicle traffic,” said Mike Hammond, newly elected county commissioner.

Harkins said some students park their vehicles in commercial parking lots on the south side of Kingston Pike and use crosswalks to get to school, which he added doesn’t seem to be a concern of the Farragut schools.

“The schools, it seems, they are only concerned with the confines of their campus,” he said.

Many in the Farragut room said that residential developers should be urged to stop using cul-de-sacs in their subdivisions and start connecting them.

“The biggest part of that is making someone do that, but I’m not sure how you could do that,” Harkins said. “Where do we get to the point where we run developers off?”

Chamberlin agreed that developers should start connecting subdivisions.

“It’s time to go back to traditional neighborhoods where they are connected,” she said.

Concerns in the other three brainstorming rooms consisted of traffic controls located too close together, lack of viable transportation alternatives, curb-cutting and lane configuration.

“There are a lot of undefined areas,” Archer said. “There are some no man’s lands because there is no definition of what that area is.”

The information given at the workshop will be compiled in about three weeks and used to develop the Kingston Pike Corridor study, which Archer said will be completed within three months.

“The steering committee will go through all this public input and filter everything,” Archer said, “then the plan for the Kingston Pike Corridor study will be developed. The ideas from there are hopefully incorporated into our sector plan.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will determine when the actual work will start, Archer added.

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