Work begins to improve safety on Chapman Highway

SEYMOUR (WATE) – Work is beginning on the first phase of a project to make Chapman Highway safer. For years Chapman Highway has been considered dangerous by those who drive it regularly.

“I was waiting to turn left and saw someone coming up behind me and there was nowhere for me to go,” said Luann Marshall.

It is an all too familiar story for many who travel Chapman Highway.

“If we would have had a turn lane we wouldn’t have gotten hit,” said Sammy Barnard.

There have been many accidents caused by a lack of turn lane down much of the busy highway.

“My neighbor, less than a year ago, was rear ended in the same predicament, same kind of thing,” said Marshall.

TDOT is starting work to add a turn lane on Chapman Highway between Foothills Drive and Whites School Road by restriping the existing pavement and creating dedicated passing lanes and seven-foot shoulders.

“I’m glad to see a turning lane actually getting put in because it is a dangerous highway to travel,” Barnard said.

From 2006 to 2015 there were 685 crashes in that 7.2 mile stretch of Chapman Highway. Two hundred forty-six of them had injuries. Fourteen of them were fatal. People living in that area say having a turn lane will make a difference.

“I got to constantly be watching my rear view mirror if I’m going to turn left off of this highway,” Barnard said.

It is the first of four phases planned by TDOT on Chapman Highway. The other three will widen the highway. This first phase will save about $80 million by not needing to re-pave and just re-painting. Drivers are looking forward to the changes.

“I’m hoping for some changes. Any changes. Any change will be good change,” Marshall said.

This first phase should be done by December. The phase from Macon Lane to State Route 338 (Boyds Creek Highway) is tentatively scheduled for 2017, pending funding.

Widening from Evans Road to Burnett Lane is currently in the engineering stages. Construction from south of Simpson Road to Hendron Chapel Road in Knoxville is scheduled for 2018, pending funding.

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