Traffic cone controversy at I-75/I-24 split - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Traffic cone controversy at I-75/I-24 split

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Drivers are noticing something unusual at the intersection of I-75 and I-24, and with safe driving campaigns discouraging distracted driving, some drivers say they don't like what they see.

Tall orange barrels shaped like stick figures stand tall in the grassy intersection. Some drivers are calling it a distraction, but TDOT says there's a good reason for it.

"What we did, was create Work Zone Wally and Work Zone Wanda," said Jennifer Flynn, TDOT Spokesperson.

TDOT wants drivers to "expect the unexpected," that's the slogan this year for National Work Zone Awareness Week.

But drivers certainly weren't expecting this.

"People were rubbernecking, as was I to be honest about it," said James McKay of Chattanooga, "People were slowing down and if you're not careful, if you're not watching and you don't slow down you're going to crash into them."

In the middle of the I-75 and I-24 junction stands a new temporary traffic display.

"We picked this intersection because it was visible and heavily traveled," Flynn said, "and we wanted people to see our display."

One viewer gave us dash cam video of traffic backed up about a mile Wednesday afternoon. Drivers slowed expecting to pass a car crash or emergency.

"It's a good thing they weren't in a construction area or I would have been distracted from the construction area."

Whether it's good or bad, these two barrel figures are getting a lot of attention.

"I did notice a lot of traffic back up there," said Cody Harvey, "It was really stunting to my day."

"And I thought it was symbolizing something," said Joann Coop of Signal Mountain, "But I wasn't sure."

TDOT wants drivers to notice, Flynn says that's the whole point.

"We are trying to make people think about it," Flynn said, "So this has caused a conversation which is a good thing."

109 TDOT employees have been killed in work zone traffic accidents since 1948. This work zone display is a reminder to pay attention to the orange cones.

"I think it's a good idea," Coop said, "In the work zones people drive crazy."

Now that drivers know what it is and why its there, TDOT is hoping people will avoid slowing down or taking pictures.

So far no accidents have occurred because of the display.

"We apologize for any inconvenience we caused by setting up Work Zone Wally and Work Zone Wanda," Flynn said, "And they will be going away early next week."

The display will be taken down Monday morning after rush hour and moved to a different location off the interstate.

But, Flynn says the display could be back next year for the same reason.

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