Canton Hollow Road: Unsafe at any speed

Larry Van GuilderOn the Grow, West Knox

More than 50 years ago the lawyer Ralph Nader published a book about what he called the “designed-in” dangers of American cars. The title, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” could justifiably be bestowed upon Canton Hollow Road in West Knox County, consistently ranked at or near the top of the county’s most dangerous roads.

The road’s blind hills and blind curves barely slow numerous drivers with a death wish, and Canton Hollow has claimed more than one heedless speeder. The growth of residential development along or feeding the narrow collector road also makes one wonder if planners have been paying close enough attention.

A lack of funds delayed planned major upgrades to the road in 2018, but the project is back with an anticipated start to construction next summer. Brad Warren, chief operations engineer for engineering and public works, emphasized the tentative nature of the starting schedule.

“The summer of 2020 is just an estimate,” Warren said. “It’s already October, and a lot of preparatory work remains.”

Warren points to the Schaad Road extension schedule as an example. Work that was planned to wrap up two years ago has been sidetracked by unforeseen permitting requirements.

The county has acquired about 60 percent of the necessary right of way. Warren said construction for the approximately $8 million project will take about two years.

When it’s complete, the road will feature an improvement rarely seen on county roads – a sidewalk on one side. A multi-use path (a greenway) is planned for the other side. A left-turn lane at Woody Drive is another much-needed upgrade.

Meanwhile, if you have to drive Canton Hollow, be smart, slow down.

Click for 2-page aerial photo Canton Hollow – Aerial Overlay .

Larry Van Guilder is the business/government editor of KnoxTNToday.

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