Letter: Highway Challenges

Having inadvertently been alluded to in a recent letter ["Stick To the Plan," Dec. 20, 2012], I felt the need to respond. I am the self-proclaimed "mathematically challenged" speaker at the recent TDOT meeting on the James White Parkway (JWP) extension and preceded the "not mathematically challenged" UT math professor in regard to TDOT's questionable math projections.

Apparently the writer was inattentive during the earlier portion of my remarks—and those of a few others. Regardless of whether this extension is built and regardless of what changes are made to Chapman Highway, safety will continue to be an issue as long as drivers continue to be irresponsible.

The primary problem in one word: "speed." To quote a dated drug campaign: "Speed kills." It can and does on Chapman Highway—coupled with distracted and/or impaired driving—where there's a posted city speed limit of 45 and a county limit of 50 mph. Yet, daily drivers exceed these posted limits, driving 60-70 mph-speeds that Chapman Highway was not designed for.

TDOT's traffic counts indicate excessive wreck totals from Fronda Drive through to the Henley Bridge. The reason: This is the area with slower traffic flow where these inveterate speeders start tail-gating and lane-jockeying, as if on a race speedway. Recently, an acquaintance suggested that the law-abiding drivers need stickers stating, "Chapman Highway Pace Car"!

But before someone states that the JWP extension would solve this, I will counter it will not. Current daily interstate driving, where the posted 55 city and 65 county mph limits are ignored, bear this out as do the wrecks of greater severity. And there will still be irresponsible drivers on Chapman Highway!

While I'm at it, let's just put all the cards on the table. Many of these most vocal proponents of the JWP extension need to be more forthcoming—since they bought property on or adjacent to the proposed route(s) over the intervening years, expecting to make a sizable profit... that may now be threatened. But not as threatened as those who drive Chapman Highway and other roads with irresponsible and law-breaking drivers.

Terry Lee Caruthers

Knoxville