Knox County planning improvements to dangerous Maynardville Pike intersection

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new traffic signal, crosswalks and vehicle access at a busy North Knoxville intersection could become a reality by the end of the year. Knox County is planning the upgrades along Maynardville Pike at Ledgerwood Road near Halls High School.

Construction could be underway by September or October. Along with the new traffic signal and crosswalks, the county will build a sidewalk along Ledgerwood Road between Maynardville Pike and Halls High School.

“We’re going to install a five-foot sidewalk from the intersection all the way to the school entrance,” Knox County Engineering and Public Works Director Jim Snowden said. “Then the school system is going to tie onto that sidewalk and take it to the school building itself.

“You’ll be able to come out of Halls High School and walk all the way to the Cuban Cafe (across Maynardville Pike) and do so in a safe manner.”

The improvements were spurred by a recent wrecks along the dangerous roadway that saw an 18-year-old killed last month. According to Rural Metro spokesperson Jeff Bagwell, 93 accidents have occurred on Maynardville Pike/Highway from city line to county line since 2019. The road becomes Maynardville Highway once it changes from a four-lane road to a two-lane road.

Brandi Pearce, a mother of a Halls High student, is ready to see the changes made to the area, after her son was hit by a car while crossing the road after school.

“He was headed to Weigels to be picked up, and a vehicle struck him,” Pearce said.

Pearce said her son was fortunate. He survived and ended up getting six stitches on his head. She said Ledgerwood Road is dangerous for students, so she’s happy changes are finally coming.

“People speed through there and it’s unsafe. The kids not really paying attention, they can be on their phones, not looking both ways. It’s scary and for the sidewalks being built, it’s going to be so helpful for the parents minds and students minds while crossing Ledgerwood Road,” Pearce said.

Pearce said she is grateful for Jacobs and Biggs pushing for the improvements after her son was hit by a car. She said the changes will bring some assurance that her son has a place to walk in the future.

“It’s going to be relieving for the parents. Um, dropping your students off in the mornings or picking them up from school, it’s, you won’t have to have that worry, ‘are they going to get hit today,'” Pearce said.

Bagwell said one of the issues his crews see on Maynardville Pike is speeding, and said that’s often the reason why crashes can be more severe along the highway.

“It is a very busy street with lots of traffic and once you get past this intersection, it’s pretty much a speedway from there on out. I think the speed limit is 55. And that’s the slow speed in most cases,” Bagwell said.

He said having a stop light at that intersection will help reduce the speed of drivers going past Ledgerwood, making it safer for pedestrians and drivers–especially the newer drivers coming out of the high school.

“You gotta remember these kids are brand new drivers, 16 and 17 years old, they’re going to be driving to school and it will be a whole lot easier for them to turn off Maynardville Highway then it will be for them to go down Emory Road and fight all the traffic going into the middle school,” Bagwell said.

He said a traffic light at the intersection will force drivers to slow down, which he hopes they continue to do once passing the intersection and heading toward Union County.

“The Maynardville Highway is actually a state road. People travel at a pretty high rate of speed. It is a dangerous intersection at a busy location where you have Halls High School and several businesses,” said Mayor Glenn Jacobs. The county has released a video detailing the safety improvements to the roadway.

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