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Town responds to GCR concerns

Grigsby Chapel Road is attracting attention from residents and drivers since construction on calming islands started March 10.

A number of farragutpress presstalks as well as calls to Town Hall, both in praise of and in complaint of the islands, prompted Town staff to post a letter and PDF copies of a traffic study on Farragut’s Web site,

“There is obviously controversy on that project,” Town Engineer Darryl Smith said.

“In order to have a consistent response to everyone, we wanted to make sure we cleared up some of the questions,” he added.

The most prolific complaint from motorists concerns the island nearest Campbell Station Road, which callers say is too close to the Campbell Station/Grigsby Chapel intersection.

The on-line explanation states: “Many motorists may not be aware, but this is where the Grigsby Chapel Greenway crosses the roadway. Certainly, addition of an island at this location adds to the safety of any pedestrians or bicyclists attempting to cross.

“At the same time, the island serves as an early warning to motorists (entering Grigsby Chapel from the east) that they are entering a residential area and should expect to drive more slowly.”

Presstalk callers also have alleged passing in the turn lane historically was not a problem, but Smith said the contractor currently working on the project still sees motorists attempt to pass.

Some presstalks have claimed accidents or near-accidents have been caused by the placement of the islands. Other callers allege the calming islands have made heavy peak-hour traffic at Grigsby Chapel and St. John Court worse, and a traffic light should have been placed there.

According to Smith, that intersection didn’t meet warrants for a signal, but if in the future it did, the Town would consider placing a traffic light there.

Finally, some presstalk callers have wondered what types of plantings will be placed in the islands, and worried that the vegetation would affect visibility. According to Smith, plantings are still being discussed, but he said they would be low-maintenance and likely low-lying.

“We’re looking at either low-lying shrubs or thin trees that would still not block the driver’s view of opposing vehicles,” Smith said.

“While the landscaping on Parkside Drive is beautiful and extremely well-maintained, you really can’t see what’s happening on the other side of the road. And we’re trying to avoid that problem.

“I really do think it will be a pretty welcome project after it’s completed,” he added.

The idea to install islands was first presented to Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen in February 2008.

“There has been an awful lot of thought and discussion that have gone into this and we want people to understand that,” Smith said.

The decision on islands came as a result of a traffic study by Cannon and Cannon, begun in 2007. The islands were chosen to slow traffic, prevent drivers from passing in the center lane, and prevent motorists from using Grigsby Chapel as a cut-through.

The study and the presentation on the islands both are available on the Town’s Web site.

“They looked at different possibilities for traffic calming and felt this had worked very well in other places,” Smith said, mentioning Morristown.


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