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Grigsby Chapel Road ‘islands’ may be victims of ‘stupid’ motorists

Alderman Bob Markli took issue with the Grigsby Chapel Road calming islands at the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Thursday, Aug. 13.

Markli claimed he had heard “numerous reports from credible sources” that motorists were hitting the islands, also citing black tire marks and divots in the concrete.

“The fact is, people are hitting them … you can go out there and look at the chunks out of the curb,” Markli said.

He asked the islands be again marked with barrels at the ends until the islands are landscaped in the coming months. The barrels recently were removed after the islands were striped and reflectors were installed.

“I don’t object to that. But I do object to the characterization that you can’t see them, because I don’t see how you could miss them,” Mayor Ralph McGill said.

“[But motorists] have to be looking to see them,” he added.

“Maybe it’s because they’re mad that they’re there; maybe it’s because they’re stupid, I don’t know, but people are hitting them and it’s just a shame,” Markli said.

Alderman Jeff Elliott asked Knox County Sheriff’s Officer Ben Harkins if he had received many accident reports from the area since the islands were installed.

Harkins said there had been 15 reported crashes on Grigsby Chapel Road since Jan. 1 (the islands were installed in late March).

Only in one of those wrecks did the motorist report hitting an island.

Markli observed some crashes might not be reported. Harkins agreed, but added insurance companies require accident reports to pay claims.

Elliott said he believed the islands were accomplishing their intent.

“Tuesday morning I was driving through there doing the speed limit and this beautiful red Mustang was behind me. He whipped out around the corner and came on an island; he immediately had to cut back behind me.

“So there was some momentary satisfaction in making him follow the speed limit. It does work,” he said.

“It’s also important to note that anybody traveling on that road who has struck one of these traffic islands is driving on the wrong side of the road when they do so,” Harkins said.

The islands are well within the boundaries of the center turn lane.

Alderman John Williams said he would hope anyone speeding down Grigsby Chapel who did hit an island “won’t do that anymore.”

“At 40 miles an hour, if you have struck one of those … you’re not paying attention, you’re impaired or you shouldn’t be driving,” Harkins said.

“Either way, every time you see a black mark on there, we have to ask ourselves, what if [the islands] weren’t there and a pedestrian had been crossing at that time?” he added.

In the end, the Board agreed to put a single barrel in the dirt at each end of every island, to give motorists an eye-level warning to get out of the center turn lane.

The barrels would stay up until the landscaping on the islands begins; Town Engineer Darryl Smith said the bids for landscaping would be let in mid-September.


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