City reduces speed limit on Chapman Highway 

Sandra ClarkSouth Knox

Following an in-depth traffic-engineering study, the speed limit has been reduced on a stretch of Chapman Highway that lies inside the city limits, according to a Thursday press release from Jim Hagerman, the city’s director of engineering.

The speed limit has been lowered from 50 to 45 miles per hour on a 1.7-mile section from Ellis Road to the city limits, near Majestic Grove Road.

The change makes the speed limit a uniform 45 mph on Chapman Highway inside the city limits. The speed limit on Henley Bridge is 35 mph, and the speed limit from just south of the bridge (near the Kern’s Bakery building) to Ellis Road was already 45 mph.

“By slowing down traffic, we aim to reduce the number of crashes and the extent of injury and damage that occur,” said Hagerman. City crews have posted the signs for the speed-limit changes.

The city has made recent safety improvements to Chapman Highway:

  • Realigned the Fort Dickerson intersection with improvements to signals and pedestrian-crossing facilities (completed in 2015 at a cost of $1 million);
  • Completed sidewalk construction on Young High Pike, including pedestrian-facility improvements at the intersection with Chapman Highway (completed 2017; $260,000);

Projects under construction:

  • The reconfiguration of the Chapman Highway intersection with Blount Avenue, improving safety for all users. This is part of the Blount Avenue Streetscapes Project, which includes $300,000 for signal improvements at this intersection;
  • Currently in the right-of-way acquisition and utility-coordination phase: signalization improvement for the entire Chapman corridor (project cost estimated at $2 million);
  • Collaborating with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to improve bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure on Chapman Highway by creating 3,200 feet of greenway between Stone Road and Woodlawn Pike and 525 feet of sidewalk from Woodlawn Pike to the existing sidewalk near Young High Pike. The project will also create pedestrian crossings at three intersections with Chapman Highway (Stone Road, Fronda Lane and Woodlawn Pike) and improve four Knoxville Area Transit bus stops. The state grant is $950,000 and the City is providing $858,000 in local funds (total project cost, $1.8 million); and
  • Completed a concept plan for bike and pedestrian improvements from Henley Bridge to Lippencott Street.

Meanwhile, Hagerman said, the Knoxville Police Department has beefed up enforcement along Chapman Highway, citing motorists who speed, do not wear seat belts or are distracted.

In April, more than 130 people attended a community workshop on the Chapman Highway Implementation Plan, held at South-Doyle Middle School. This was the latest in a series of workshops and a survey involving the people who regularly drive Chapman Highway to help prioritize among roughly 50 proposed Chapman Highway safety improvements. Better intersection alignments and adding dedicated turn lanes or landscaped medians are among the proposed safety upgrades.

The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization and the city will forward a final report this summer to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for its consideration. TDOT has committed $45 million to improvements along the Chapman Highway corridor from the Henley Bridge to Seymour.

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