Dangerous Bradley County intersection already seeing changes - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dangerous Bradley County intersection already seeing changes

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UPDATE: Weeks after Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson promised to make one of the most dangerous intersections in the county safer, departments are already stepping up.

“We all have the same goal, and that's safety,” TDOT Spokesperson Jennifer Flynn said.

The intersection at Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road has been the site of 16 crashes in two years, which is why Watson says changes need to be made.

TDOT officials recently visited the area and asked local business owners about the problem.

“The main thing he saw on a regular basis was people running the stop sign on Walker Valley Road. He said that seems to be the cause of the crashes and our traffic data confirms that,” Flynn added.

TDOT teamed up with the Bradley County Highway Department to add larger stop signs, stop ahead signs and paint on the road, as well as rumble strips.

“Hopefully people will see one of those four things and it will get their attention and they'll stop,” she said.

Officials have also cleared some of the vegetation in the area to help make it easier to see.

A stop light and lower speed limit have also been proposed, but officials won't be able to look into those types of changes until next year.

Channel 3 spoke with some who live and own businesses around that intersection, they didn't want to go on camera, but agree the intersection needs a traffic light.

The sheriff has also proposed putting a crossing guard at the intersection when people are going to and from Walker Valley High School.

UPDATE: The new Bradley County sheriff isn't wasting any time when it comes to fixing one of the most dangerous intersections in his county. 

There have been 16 crashes at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road since 2012.

Which is why the sheriff says he's determined to find a permanent solution at whatever the cost.

Between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. on weekday mornings, Sheriff Eric Watson says 1,800 people travel the 1.5 mile stretch of road—Which is a lot of traffic for the two lane road in just two hours. Those people are going to Walker Valley High School, the Amazon and Wacker plants as well as General Electric and is part of the reason why Watson says this intersection is so dangerous.

Watson has barely been in office for 60 days and is already making changes.

“We need to be prepared for it. We need to build the five lane road, make it safer and lower the speed limit and we want to keep people alive,” he said.

But Watson says his hands are tied when it comes to finding a permanent solution. The road is a state highway, meaning TDOT is responsible for maintenance and jurisdiction belongs to Tennessee Highway Patrol.

“They are receptive, but we need to get them on our timeline. That's what we want to do,” District 22 Representative Dan Howell said.

Howell has met with TDOT officials. They say the intersection qualifies for safety funds, but officials won't be able to review the intersection for another six months.

Watson says that's too long and has proposed a couple changes like working with area businesses and school leaders to help with traffic flow during the busiest hours. For him, changes are worth the investment.

“It's worth investing in a crossing guard in front of the school. I mean, it's just worth it,” he added.

Walker Valley High School Principal Danny Coggin says the road wasn't built for the amount of traffic it now has and is willing to do what it takes to keep his students safe.

“When we first opened, it may have been a little different, but now we have well over 1,500 students and parents coming to pick them up and bus traffic and we want to make sure we are doing what's safe for our young people,” Coggin said.

Watson has created a committee that will meet with business leaders to see if they can stager work shifts to help with the amount of traffic.

PREVIOUS STORY: Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson Dangerous intersection near Walker Valley High to get improvements. 

Bradley County leaders have joined Sheriff Eric Watson for more enforcement at dangerous intersection by Walker Valley High School in Charleston. 

Sheriff Watson formed a committee to come up with short term solutions to help the intersection. Sheriff Watson proposed a crossing guard in the morning and afternoon.

Watson is encouraging the Tennessee Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph and for the state to step up patrols.

TDOT will review the intersection to see how to use safety funding to improve the intersection.

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