Mount Carmel BMA directs complaints about Main Street safety to TDOT

Jeff Bobo • Mar 1, 2020 at 10:20 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — Last weekend, Tedra Strickland and her family were almost involved in five accidents at the intersection of Main Street and Englewood Avenue, and everyone she calls to ask for help gives her the brushoff.

On Thursday, however, Mount Carmel City Manager Mike Housewright advised the public to direct all complaints and concerns about traffic pattern changes at that intersection to TDOT District Supervisor Trampus Grindstaff at (423) 928-6957.

Housewright said City Hall has received numerous complaints about the new two-way stop at Main and Englewood since changes were made in conjunction with the installation of new traffic lights at Highway 11-W and Englewood.

What are the safety concerns?

With the new red light installation last month at 11-W and Englewood, TDOT changed the four-way stop at nearby Main and Englewood to a two-way.

As a result, Englewood traffic going to and coming from 11-W doesn’t stop at Main Street. The only warning of the change is a small sign beneath the stop signs that states, “Cross traffic doesn’t stop.”

That intersection has been a four-way stop as long as anyone can remember, and Housewright told the Times News that motorists are having a hard time adapting to the change. Many people are programmed to stop and go at the Main Street stop sign because they’re used to Englewood traffic stopping.

Strickland told the BMA Thursday the biggest problem is that the traffic headed east and west on Main Street doesn’t realize that the traffic exiting 11-W and coming off of Englewood doesn’t have to stop.

“Also when headed west on Main Street, there is restricted view on your right at the Builders First Source,” Strickland said. “Because of this restricted view, you can’t watch on your left like you need to for the traffic exiting 11-W.”

Strickland added, “I don’t have all the answers, but I feel very strongly that this needs addressed very urgently. I believe that the short-term solution is for some warning signs to be placed on Main Street alerting the drivers to the changes. Over the long term, I believe there needs to be a solution to this dangerous situation.”

Mother of eight gets the runaround

Strickland, who resides on Dover Avenue, said she is the mother of eight children, six of whom are between the ages of 16 and 21. She said safety at that intersection is a major concern to her.

“Within just this past week, our family alone has almost been involved in five separate accidents there,” Strickland said. “Between my husband, my oldest son and I, we have spoken to officials from several state and city departments. The engineer for the project said we need to give it some time. The Hawkins County Highway Department made a snide comment about our mayor and said we need to ask him for help. An officer for the Mount Carmel police said that he had almost been hit twice there recently this week. He said stay away from that intersection and avoid it at all costs. The state DOT (Department of Transportation) said that their responsibility is to just put signs on 11-W and the city of Mount Carmel would be responsible for any warning signage on Main Street.”

“TDOT needs to hear from the public”

City Hall has received numerous complaints about Main and Englewood, and Housewright voiced those concerns to TDOT. He told TDOT the city would be referring complaints to that agency “because we don’t have control over that traffic pattern.”

Housewright said he had distributed Grindstaff’s number to BMA members as well, so they can contact him and pass along his number as they receive complaints.

“He (Grindstaff) is looking at signage, things of that nature on Main Street as well,” Housewright said. “He said that he would be looking at bringing additional signage over. I will tell you that TDOT needs to hear from the public, if there’s a public outcry. If we contact TDOT it’s one voice, and quite frankly we have no control over it.”

Alderman Jim Gilliam added, “You can rest assured I’ll be calling Mr. Grindstaff tomorrow.”