Planning Commission

Members of the Tullahoma Municipal Regional Planning Commission and Public Works Director Butch Taylor look over a potential plan to fix the intersection of Ovoca and Riley Creek roads. The intersection is in need of major renovation to increase safety, according to the commission. Clockwise from left are Jimmy Blanks, Taylor, Bill Comer, Ray Knowis, Larry Crabtree and Rupa Blackwell.

The intersection of Ovoca and Riley Creek roads may be getting a facelift, if the Tullahoma Municipal Regional Planning Commission has anything to say about it.

At a study session held on Monday, Nov. 5, the commission discussed the dangers of the intersection in relation to a proposed subdivision off Ovoca Road that was denied at the commission’s October meeting.

During that meeting the planning commission denied a preliminary plat for The Woodlands Phase II subdivision, which would have seen 45 lots constructed between the two roads.

Alderman Ray Knowis objected strongly to the development, citing the intersection as a major red flag.

Knowis, who lives in the area and utilizes the intersection daily, cited numerous traffic accidents – including some of his own near-accidents – as anecdotal evidence of the intersection’s danger.

 “Until that traffic situation is improved there, I will oppose any development there,” Knowis said during the meeting.

City Administrator Jennifer Moody, who was at the study session, asked Public Works Director Butch Taylor to work with the city’s engineer, Scott St. John, to see how the city could go about correcting the Y-intersection.

Of most concern to the commission and other city officials is how Ovoca Road curves into Riley Creek and the lack of visibility from the northern section of Ovoca.

“That road, in my opinion, is the cause of the worst traffic accidents in the city,” commission member Bill Comer said.

Taking a community’s worth of collective anecdotal evidence into account, Moody said she asked Taylor and St. John to look at “every approach at that intersection” in order to determine where the largest liabilities lay.

“I’ve seen cars not be able to maintain the lane either because of speed or road design,” she said. “Something’s going on there.”

Between anecdotal evidence and police reports of traffic accidents involving that intersection, Moody said, the city understands there are multiple problems to be addressed.

“There’s issues, I’m hearing, with every approach,” she said.

Additionally, Moody said, the road doesn’t meet the standards set by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

“We looked at the curve there at Riley Creek, and it’s a really short curve,” Moody said. “It doesn’t meet standards.”

The biggest hurdle blocking the city’s way in correcting the intersection is right-of-way acquisitions, Moody said.

The property sitting in between Riley Creek and Ovoca roads is not owned by the city, so in order to use that property to correct the intersection, the city will need to buy the property from its owner.

Until the city acquires the property in question from its owner, a full-scale remodel isn’t possible; however, Taylor said, there is a short-term plan they can implement until that property becomes available.

One possible fix to the intersection would be to straighten out the curve of Riley Creek Road, Taylor said.

While this plan would not make the intersection a perfect T, Taylor said, it would improve the intersection greatly.

“Can we make it a perfect T? No, but can we improve it? Absolutely,” he said.

Erin McCullough may be reached at