It seems like no time at all has passed since we got the governor to consider our dangerous intersection of Highway 25-E and 131. At that time, Governor Haslam palmed the issue off to the director of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The director, John Schroer, ordered a complete study and determined that the lives of the people in this community did not warrant the cost of a $20 million bridge. Schroer told us that he would authorize some minor maintenance changes, such as rock removal and new signs, but if we didn’t like that then we wouldn’t get anything at all.
Since those changes represented nothing at all anyway, we had nothing to lose by telling him that we didn’t like it. We expressed that he worked for us, that his money was actually our money, and that putting a little makeup on the problem was much like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound. We stated that it would have zero effect on the rate of fatalities.
Six people were killed in that intersection in a time span of about 20 years. Eight years later, another person was killed. This is proof positive that the TDOT was 100 percent wrong, and the people of this community were 100 percent right. But what’s truly frightening is that there will be no accountability, and we are going forward with this madness.
The plan that TDOT is now working on will probably make things worse. They are planning on increasing the size of the problem by increasing the size of the intersection. They will be installing concrete curbs in the middle if the highway that will disable your car, trapping you in the line of traffic. They are going to install driving directions on signs and on the pavement that will distract you from oncoming vehicles.
It should also be noted that during the community meeting a few weeks ago, Daniel Oliver of TDOT looked the people of this community right in the eye and said, “…this plan is better than taking 20 years and costing billions of dollars.” That was a lie. We know that was a lie because it takes only 24 hours to put up a temporary red light and then you can take all the sweet time you need. We know that was a lie because in Hamblen county, they built a second highway adjacent to the current highway next to Walmart. They rerouted traffic to the second highway, tore up the first highway and built a third highway which had two bridges and then rerouted traffic again to the third and tore up the second, and we all saw them do all this in less than five years. And we know this was a lie because even poor hillbillies know the difference between millions of dollars and billions.
I believe that there will eventually be a bridge over that spot. I believe that they will improve the existing access roads there, so that cars will be able to cross and merge into the direction traffic is moving.
But many of our leaders would like to support our state bureaucrats who feel that our money is their money, and that our safety is just a talking point for speeches. I’d like to tell your readers how they can help shorten the risk time and save lives. First, say the words “Killer Crossing.” Use it in a sentence. Once we put a name on our problem, it becomes different from any other Tennessee highway project. There are lots of places in Tennessee, but there is only one Killer Crossing. Also, challenge anyone in Tennessee to show you a spot that kills more people than one person every five years.
When you tell someone that Killer Crossing is the most deceptively dangerous spot in the state, you’re basically proving that the state is not doing it’s job.
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