ONLY ON 3: Sections of I-24 twice as dangerous as state average
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Recent findings from the Tennessee Department of Transportation prove we drive on some of the state's most dangerous roads. From Hamilton to Grundy to Marion Counties, the study found that locally parts of I-24 have crash rates more than double the state's average.
THE NUMBERS TDOT found the area's most dangerous stretch of I-24 is between Rossville Boulevard (exit 180) and South Moore Road (exit 184). We found 200 wrecks there last year, with 31 injuries and two deaths. That's more than two times the state average.
We found similar numbers a few miles away. From Browns Ferry Road (exit 175) to exit 179, there were 198 wrecks in 2013, with 37 injuries and one death.
TDOT said ten segments on I-24 exceed the average statewide crash rate on comparable roadways by two or more times. Four segments are in Davidson County, three in Hamilton County, and one each in Robertson, Marion and Grundy Counties.
The sky was dark. The road was wet.
A recent spell of rain dampened July 4th plans for many and soaked area roadways.
The time was 4:30 a.m. on Friday, July 5, 2013 when a family was forever changed.
The Jimenez-Angel family was rounding a dangerous bend of I-24 when their Nissan X-Terra hydroplaned, flipped and slammed into the concrete barrier. The crash report states the SUV "slid into the wall on wet pavement."
Isabel Angel, who had celebrated her ninth birthday in June, died at Erlanger. Her parents, brother and sister survived the crash.
The family was driving on the I-24 Eastbound concrete bridge overpass by the Downtown Chattanooga exit.
Later that afternoon, Channel 3 confirmed at least nine more wrecks on that same stretch of I-24.
One week after Isabel Angel was killed, TDOT closed that dangerous section of I-24 to "groove" the concrete surface to make it more skid-resistant.
"It will make the roadway grippier and allow your tires to grip the roadway better," said TDOT Spokesperson Jennifer Flynn. "What was involved was getting a milling machine out there and just roughing up the surface a little bit."
On parts of I-24 that are asphalt, TDOT hopes to cut down on splashing, spraying and hydroplaning with a new kind of asphalt called OGFC, short for Open Grade Friction Course. OGFC is already in use on parts of the interstate with more on the way this spring.
"We were concerned with that area, it has been the site of several crashed and we at least wanted to do what was in our power to at least try to help the situation," said TDOT Spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn.
But even with the new roadway improvements, Flynn said it will never be perfect. There will always be wrecks.
"One of the problems in that area is that people speed through there, it's a curve and people come in there at 70-75 miles per hour and nothing is going to be absolutely fool proof but this should help," Flynn said.
TDOT will soon release the findings of its I-24 Multimodal Corridor Study which will identify short and long-term solutions for improving some of these trouble spots. The study is expected to be released by the end of February.