Letter: Officials need to keep pressing on Chapman Highway improvements

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 11:37 PM

Editor,

Every time I drive on Chapman Highway, I tell myself: Drive at your own risk. A traffic accident can happen anywhere, but Chapman highway has an unfortunate record of fatalities.

I am so pleased to hear that Governor Haslam has taken an interest in improving the traffic flow and safety of Chapman Highway.

Just recently I made a trip back from Knoxville and saw an elderly man walking his bike in the grass off the side of Chapman, because there just wasn’t enough pavement for him to safely ride on the shoulder. I so wished there had been a greenway path (sidewalks are so bumpy) out of harm’s way for him. I have also seen many pedestrians and people on motorized wheelchairs along the highway. Every time I do, I pray they survive their trek unscathed.

So I’m writing this to encourage Gov. Haslam, Rep. Carr, Rep. Farmer, Sen. Overby, mayors of Knox and Sevier County and Tennessee highway officials to keep this issue of traffic flow safety on Chapman highway on the table for all types of commuters, from the pedestrian and wheelchair occupant to the cyclist to the automobile driver.

The expenses will perhaps be uncomfortable now, but the investment in the infrastructure will safely serve millions. I imagine the businesses along the way might have to sacrifice, too, but they would no doubt eventually benefit from commuters who for now choose to avoid the dangerous highway. I myself have avoided it countless times.

We create the world we want to live in. I hope you envision a Tennessee where greenways are an automatic feature not only on Chapman Highway but all over Tennessee, even in the remote areas where the roads wind narrowly without shoulders. I hope that you use your positions to shape a healthier, safer Chapman Highway and Tennessee, where people have the confidence to be outside, moving their bodies, traveling from place to place. Maybe our bright engineering students from an area university can attempt to tackle the issue.

There might not be a Nobel Peace Prize for the public servants and/or engineers that can successfully formulate a safe thoroughfare, but we who live in the area will hold you in high esteem.

Kudos to the ones who finally meet this challenge in making our little world a brighter, healthier, safer, place to live.

Thank you,

Joanna Burke

Sevierville