Photo by Rosie Hill
Grainger Today Reporter
KNOXVILLE – Grainger County Commissioner James Acuff addressed members of the East Tennessee North Regional Planning Organization (ETNRPO) Thursday, Sept. 21 during its semiannual meeting. Acuff spoke to the organization about the need for an overpass at the intersection of Hwy. 131 and Hwy. 25E in Thorn Hill. Acuff drew a diagram so members would fully understand the layout of the intersection. He explained the amount of traffic traveled on both Hwy. 25E and Hwy. 131 daily, including four school buses, CMT Trucking and Clinch Mountain Hardwood. Acuff said, “One of these school buses is probably going to get t-boned at some point. Loss of life on that school bus is going to be horrific.” There have been seven fatality accidents at the intersection. Acuff explained Norris Lake is another contributing factor to the danger at the intersection, causing heavy fog in the area, and Hwy. 25E is a four-lane highway that goes into Kentucky, adding a high presence of tractor-trailers. From the top of the mountain to the intersection is 2.5 miles making it hard for tractor-trailers to stop. A red light would not be a solution for the issue due to the mountain’s elevation. “We just need an overpass. That’s what the people in my district want,” Acuff said. “Something needs to be done with this project now.” The current TDOT approved project is for offsetting the intersection. Bean Station Mayor Terry Wolfe, who is a member of the RPO, said, “County Commissioners passed a resolution to be sent to Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) for an overpass to be considered there. All of that has been done. There will be a new study started, and this is the start of the process.” Wolfe advised all the information had been presented to TDOT, and they would take the information from there.
Stacy Weaver with TDOT gave an update about current projects in Grainger County. The widening of Hwy. 11W from Rutledge to Bean Station will begin the right-of-way phase late 2017, with appraisal and then property acquisition. The offsetting of the intersection at Hwy. 25E and Hwy. 131 is still in the engineering phase, and construction is slated to start in 2018.