Fatal wreck raises concern for safety on Alcoa Highway

Fatal wreck raises concern for safety on Alcoa Highway

Posted:
A crash on Highway 129 Monday left traffic back up for hours. A crash on Highway 129 Monday left traffic back up for hours.
The fatal accident on Alcoa Highway at Ginn Drive left one dead and three others injured. The fatal accident on Alcoa Highway at Ginn Drive left one dead and three others injured.
Traffic was delayed in both directions on Alcoa Highway after the wreck. Traffic was delayed in both directions on Alcoa Highway after the wreck.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

ALCOA (WATE) - Mangled cars, ambulance sirens and a long line of traffic are a sight all too common on Alcoa Highway.

A four-car crash Monday afternoon on Alcoa Highway near Ginn Drive left one person dead and three injured.

Law enforcement officials say accidents are on the rise.

"Unfortunately accidents have increased over the last couple years on Alcoa Highway," Alcoa Police Sgt. Hank Morris said.

Alcoa and Knoxville police share responsibility for patrolling Highway 129. Wrecks are on the rise in both cities.

"More people are getting in a hurry and paying less attention and we're seeing an increase," he said.

There have been hundreds of crashes along Alcoa and at least 13 deaths in the last four years.

Law enforcement and local residents say speeding is their biggest concern when it comes to Alcoa Highway. With the help of a speed gun, we found on average cars were traveling around 60 miles per hour, but our speed gun clocked people going as fast as 71.

Residents that live near Monday's accident site say it continues to get worse.

"You would be amazed at their excess speed even though they're traveling close together," said resident Stephen Reynolds.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 cars travel Highway 129 each day.

"With just the two lanes and the traffic so heavy all the time it's really, it's just a mess," said resident Carolyn Marks.

For parents like Marks, wrecks like the one that happened Monday are frightening.

"I have a daughter that's 16 and is just about to take her driving test. I'm scared to death for her," Marks said.

Sgt. Morris says fatal accidents on Alcoa, especially one from 2010 that left a young mother and her baby dead, are the reason they continue to increase patrols. 

"It's something a lot of officers will never forget, when you see a young lady and a child killed , its something that sticks with you and it motivates the officers to get out there and remind people to slow down," he explained.

TDOT has an Alcoa Highway Improvement project in the works. It's a project that began in 1989, but has finally picked up momentum.

A public meeting was held in June and TDOT says the next step is to finish the environmental document and send it to the Federal Highway Association for review and approval. Officials anticipate approval by Spring 2014.

In the meantime, Alcoa police are stepping up patrols to cut down on speeders.

The investigation into Monday's wreck is still underway.

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