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Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen debated a catch-22 regarding a requested traffic signal at the intersection of Campbell Station Road and Farragut High School’s west entrance at its meeting Thursday, Dec. 9.

FHS principal Michael Reynolds requested a traffic light at the intersection during the Board’s November meeting, saying the red light was needed for students who turn left onto Campbell Station.

At that November meeting, the Board asked Town administrator David Smoak to return with options for the intersection.

At the December meeting, Smoak presented three options: a $110,000 traffic signal, a $10,000 raised traffic island or a crossing guard, costing anywhere from $8,500 to $15,000 a year.

“Realistically, it makes sense that we should try an island first,” Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche said.

Last week, the Town announced it had plans to conduct a signal warrant study at that intersection anyway, along with three other intersections around Town.

“The plan is to do whatever is warranted,” Mayor Ralph McGill told a crowded audience at the Board’s December meeting.

And that’s where the catch-22 came into play.

Reynolds has said he will not open the west entrance of the High School until the Town corrects the left turn problem.

In order to do an accurate warrant study, which studies the way traffic normally moves in an intersection, the entrance road has to be open.

“I’m concerned we can’t get accurate traffic count information at the entrance to the high school if that road is not open, fully operational and fully in use,” Alderman John Williams said.

But Reynolds repeated his stance that he would not open the entrance — even for the traffic study he requested.

“You’re asking me to open that up and determine if there’s a risk, and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take,” Reynolds said.

But, he said, an island “is better than nothing. I still think a study needs to be done there.”

Alderman Bob Markli asked Reynolds if he would open the entrance just long enough for the study to be done, then close it again.

“You’re asking me to risk my kids’ lives for 10 days for $10,000 or $100,000. I’ve buried enough kids,” Reynolds said.

Several parents in the audience called out their thoughts.

“It’s a handful of kids trying to turn left — most people are smart enough not to turn left there,” one said.

Lydia Donahue came to the podium and said, “maybe [the island] is the solution and no study needs to be done.”

Markli said he would prefer a red light to an island, calling the school traffic “a zoo.”

“I’d probably be in favor of a traffic light over an island,” he said.

Williams said he wouldn’t vote for anything to be done arbitrarily, and said if the Town decides to construct an island, he would just as soon scratch the signal study.

“If we put the island in, we’ll never need the signal,” Williams said, since the island will determine how traffic moves — prohibiting any left turns from the FHS entrance onto Campbell Station.

Markli moved to construct the island “as soon as physically possible,” while also continuing with a warrant study. LaMarche seconded and the motion was approved with Williams dissenting.

Town Engineer Darryl Smith said an island likely could be constructed in the next 60 days, depending on weather.

Reynolds said he would reopen the entrance drive once the island is constructed.


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