JELLICO (WATE) – In just the past couple weeks, there have been at least five incidents that tied up traffic on Interstate 75 in Campbell County, from vehicle fires to serious crashes.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has a project in the works to improve safety and the Tennessee Highway Patrol has a warning for drivers.
Ethan Morgan lives in Campbell County and drives on I-75 several days a week. He says he’s seen an accident all too often recently.
“Recently, we’ve seen a lot of wrecks through there. We really don’t know why it is happening, so it is definitely a very dangerous stretch of road,” said Morgan.
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Lt. Don Boshears with THP has lived and worked in Campbell County for 25 years. He’s responded to three accidents on I-75 in Campbell county in just the last week. He says this stretch of interstate can be very dangerous.
“It’s mountainous. You are going up the mountain and back down before you get to the state line. It’s curvy. They pretty much had to put the roadway in the way the land lays. It’s subject to fog. Sometimes it can get foggy up there there,” said Lt. Boshears.
He says this area can be especially challenging for drivers in the winter.
“It can get snow covered pretty quick and you just have to be mindful of that when you are traveling in that area. It could be come a problem quick,” he said.
According to TDOT traffic count records, the amount of vehicles traveling on I-75 between Caryville and Jellico is increasing. For example, around 23,000 vehicles traveled daily on I-75 near Rarity Mountain Road in 2010. The daily average traffic increased by 5,000 vehicles in 2013.
With more traffic and curvy hilly mountain roads, drivers need to be alert.
“If you are distracted and not paying attention and the vehicle in front of you is moving slow, you are going to run up underneath them,” said Lt. Boshears.
TDOT has a couple of safety improvement projects being planned to add a lane northbound near mile markers 135 and 145. This would give an extra lane for cars to pass while trucks are going very slow up steep hills.
Ethan Morgan supports the plan.
“Anything that they can do to increase safety is always going to be definitely worth it,” he said.
TDOT says the extra lane on sections of I-75 in Campbell County would improve safety, ease congestion and prevent delays. The project could start in the fall.
THP wants to encourage drivers to wear their seat belts and to not drive distracted.