Editorial: Chapman Highway in need of changes

Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:17 PM

Hundreds of Sevier and Knox County residents make the daily trek between the two counties on Chapman Highway.

Long known as a perilous piece of road, the 12-mile stretch between Seymour and Sevierville seems especially dangerous.

Just one week from Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the church van crash that killed two members of Cedar Grove Baptist Church and injured 12.

Jeff Trussell, 45, of Maryville, and Courteney Kaliszewski, a 16-year-old from Seymour, died after a Chevy Blazer driven by 21-year-old Tyler Schaeffer crossed the center line near Zion Hill Church Road and struck the van they were traveling in, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

In the days immediately after the tragedy, nerves were raw and people were seeking answers about the safety of Chapman Highway. 

Over 6,300 people signed an online petition seeking a redesign of Chapman Highway. “This highway has claimed countless lives,” the petition read. “A redesign is long over due. The traffic has out grown the road way. Businesses continue to go up, in return, traffic will also.”

TDOT told WATE television that 14,000 cars drive Chapman Highway every day.

In a half-mile stretch near the accident site, the Tennessee Highway Patrol says there have been 27 accidents since 2007, WATE said, not including the van accident.

Officials made trips to the stretch of highway, surveyed the area, and made promises that changes may happen.

Some changes did.

Rumble strips were added in some places to the double-lined area separating the opposing directions of the four-lane.

But then the changes stopped. 

As is often the case, with time, people move on.

This past Sunday there was another accident on Chapman, less than two miles from last year’s wreck.

Again it was a case of traffic crossing the center lane. Again there was a fatality.

Maybe it’s time for officials to give the road another look.