Dangerous Drive: city works to improve safety on Chapman Highway

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The City of Knoxville is reducing the speed limit of a 1.7-mile section of Chapman Highway.

The speed limit will be lowered from 50 to 45 miles per hour from Ellis Road to the Knoxville city limits near Majestic Grove Road.

“Speed is a factor in many crashes and also a factor in the severity of crashes,”
said Jim Hagerman, City Director of Engineering.
“By slowing down traffic, we aim to reduce the number of crashes and the extent of injury and damage that occur.”

The change comes after an in-depth City Traffic Engineering study and makes the speed limit 45 miles per hour within Knoxville city limits.

Tennessee Highway Patrol said in April of 2018 that there's been a total of 1,422 crashes since 2013.

Officials report there's been more than 70 deadly crashes since 2005.

City officials and neighbors agree, there's more that needs to be done to improve the safety of Chapman Highway.

"We live so close that when a car wreck happens, we can hear it,"
Stephen Widmann, a South Knoxville neighbor, said.
"It's terrifying when you hear it late at night."

Hagerman said there are safety and congestion issues on the highway. A community workshop in April 2019 kicked off a Chapman Highway Study which is being conducted by the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

One of the top projects being considered is putting in a median or turn lane on the sections that currently don't have it within city limits. Hagerman said that would be the biggest and most expensive improvement.

Along with that, city officials said it also looks at improving intersections and pedestrian walkways. The city is working with TDOT on the project.

State crews are also working on a 10-mile stretch of Chapman Highway leading up to Seymour. The project would widen parts of the existing four-lane roadway with a center turn lane. Other areas would be re-surfaced and include a paved shoulder. TDOT said the project is expected to be complete by the fall of 2023.

The city's Chapman Highway study is expected to be complete by the end of summer. From there, officials said they would look at what projects need to be worked on first.