traffic study

The Y-intersection of Ovoca and Riley Creek roads has caused concern for area residents for many years, prompting the City of Tullahoma to approve a six-week traffic study to determine the best course of correction for the troublesome traffic area.

Following recent complaints from residents and contentious discussions at city meetings about the area, the city has requested a traffic study be conducted on the intersection of Ovoca and Riley Creek roads.

At the March 11 meeting of the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen, City Administrator Jennifer Moody announced the study would benefit both current development happening near the intersection, as well as prepare for future development in the area.

“We’ve had much discussion about Ovoca Road and Riley Creek Road recently, with new subdivisions being developed out that way,” she said during the meeting. “There’s also a considerable amount of property available for future subdivisions and new homes.”

Having the study done now will better equip the city in preparing for that future development, she added, particularly where citizen safety is concerned.

The Nashville-based firm Gresham Smith has been approved to perform the study, which will take approximately six weeks to complete. Moody the firm was selected due to the quick turnaround it could provide.

“They [Gresham Smith] would be able to quickly accomplish this task in approximately six weeks, whereas our local engineers are really busy and couldn’t respond in as quick a time,” Moody said.

The city board unanimously approved the traffic study as well as its associated costs, which total $19,200, according to a memo on the subject provided to The News. Funds for the study are to come from the city’s capital projects fund in order to cover the cost for the project, the memo states.

According to a scope of work document from Gresham Smith, the firm is going to look at traffic projections, perform a crash analysis and a stop and signal warrant analysis and come up with “improvement options.” The firm will also look at and give the city approximate costs for each of their proposed improvement options, according to the scope of work document.

Traffic projections will be based on eight hours of “turning movement counts,” or the number of vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians that approach the intersection. The hours to be studied include 6 to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m., per the document.

The firm will also perform a crash analysis, calculating the number of crashes that take place at the intersection. Once that number is calculated, it will be compared with the crash rate of similar intersections using Tennessee Department of Transportation guidelines. By using TDOT standards, the document says, “the data can be submitted to TDOT to determine if federal safety funds can be utilized to assist with improvements.”

Another facet of the study is the “stop and signal warrant analysis,” which determines if the intersection meets the state requirements for needing a traffic signal or an all-way stop.

Once those three components have been calculated, the firm will then look into several different improvement options, including interim and permanent solutions.

The first option listed on the document is a signing and pavement marking option, which is listed as the interim improvement.

This is followed by looking at a realignment option. This would see how it would be possible to create a T-intersection rather than a Y-intersection. It may include turn lanes if they are required, according to the document.

The third option the firm will look at is the possibility of realigning Riley Creek Road to “meet 30 mph speed through intersection area,” meaning it would see how to make Riley Creek a slower road to travel. Riley Creek Road currently sits on an incline, where the curve in the road where it meets Ovoca banks vehicles, causing them to maintain higher rates of speed. This realignment option would seek to reduce the speed of cars on the road by altering the structure of the road. Turn lanes are also an option here, according to the document.

The final option to be studied is the possibility of installing a roundabout at the intersection. Two roundabout options will likely be necessary to study, according to the document. The first would have a “diameter consistent with suburban residential areas,” and the second would have a larger diameter – one “more favorable to semi-truck traffic (to accommodate Dickel truck traffic).”

Once the study has been completed and all options have been produced, Gresham Smith will report its findings to city officials, including Moody and Public Works Director Butch Taylor, as well as City Engineer Scot St. John.

Questions to city officials about a potential timeline for the study went unanswered by press time, but the scope of work document from Gresham Smith “assumes an executed contract by April 1, 2019.”

Gresham Smith also anticipates submitting the draft report to the city by either May 15 or “no later than six weeks from receiving an executed contract, whichever is later.”

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.