KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Commissioners voted Monday to take the first steps aimed at making a shortcut route a little safer.
Changes are proposed for Bob Gray Road in West Knox County, between Cedar Bluff and Pellissippi Parkway.
Two fatal wrecks have occurred there this year.
Monday's vote begins the process of installing roundabouts at Mabry Hood and Bob Kirby roads.
Commissioners approved a measure to acquire the land near the intersections of both roads.
Construction costs for both roundabouts are estimated to be around $1.1 million.
John Baca lives on Bob Kirby Road. He is one of the many nearby residents who say a roundabout won't solve traffic problems.
"There's lots of ways to control to the speed aside from putting a million dollar obstacle in the intersection," said Baca.
"We're not against roundabouts per-se, roundabouts do serve a purpose. We're against roundabouts on Bob Gray Road," said another resident at the commission meeting.
The two intersections would be located 0.7 miles from each other. Cannon & Cannon is a consulting engineering company overseeing the project.
"Crashes exceed statewide averages by large numbers and these roundabouts are designated to reduce those numbers by any possibly number that could," said Alan Childers, vice president of Cannon & Cannon.
The numbers show there are about seven times as many crashes and crashes with injuries at the two intersections as the state average.
There were 24 crashes, nine with injury, on Bob Gray Road at Mabry Hood Road between 2009 and 2011, according to data from the Knox County Sheriff's Office.
During the same time, there were 18 crashes, eight with injuries, on Bob Gray Road at Bob Kirby Road.
Some residents and a few commissioners say they haven't had enough time to review the engineers' plans for the road. The most recent public meeting for the project was held last week.
"The people who drive that road and are going to be impacted by it. I just felt like they deserve that opportunity to have an extra few days to gather all the information and ask the questions they want to ask," said Commissioner Mike Hammond.
Other commissioners say something has to be done sooner than later.
"There's going to some people that are disappointed by the vote, but you're talking about overall safety for everybody," said Commissioner Brad Anders.
The start of construction on the roundabouts is slated for May or June of next year.
Officials say they hope the project will be completed by August 2013, in time for the first day of school.