Alderman Tom Kern announced Tuesday that the section of Highway 11-W in front of Volunteer High School will be receiving school zone caution lights. The lights have been approved by the Tennessee Department of Transportation thanks in part to recommendations by state Rep. Mike Harrison, R-Rogersville, and state Sen. Mike Williams, I-Maynardville.
Williams and Harrison were in attendance for Tuesday’s meeting to receive plaques in appreciation of their service to the city. Kern said the school lights on 11-W are just another example of that service.
“Thanks to Mike and Mike, because I know for a fact phone calls have been made,” Kern said.
Harrison said the lights probably won’t be installed for four to five months, but certainly in time for the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.
Kern admitted that he might be “stealing the thunder” of Police Chief Mark Johnson in making the announcement early. Kern said Johnson was a driving force in getting the school crossing lights approved by TDOT.
For years, the Church Hill Police Department has stationed a patrol car with flashing blue lights in the 11-W eastbound passing lane to help traffic pulling out onto the highway when school lets out in the afternoon.
There’s also an officer on foot directing traffic at the end of the school day, a situation Mayor Dennis Deal said causes him concern for the officer’s safety.
An accident Monday in Surgoinsville in which a fire truck parked in the highway during a wreck was struck by a car is a good example of the dangers involved with blocking or directing traffic on 11-W.
“We’ve worked several years to get that (caution light installation) done, and once we get that done and we get people used to them, I want the police officer pulled out from standing in the middle of that street,” Deal said. “I came through there the other night and it was foggy, and knock on wood, we’ve been very lucky. People come through there, and they don’t see everything.”
Deal said contracts for the light have been signed and sent to Nashville.