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By CINDY SIMPSON
There’s good news for anyone who has driven through Rockwood and can swear that they’ve hit every traffic light on red.
The installation of more sophisticated new traffic lights at Gateway Avenue intersections is under way this week.
“Our contractor to work on signals is expected to start work Wednesday or Thursday of this week,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Yvette Martinez.
“I’m going to lean toward Thursday because of the weather,” she added.
Roadway signs on the intersecting streets of Gateway warn of upcoming construction.
“They are going to be putting in new signal heads, new cables and then they are going to interconnect those cables. That will allow the signals to talk to each other,” Martinez said.
Rockwood Mayor James Watts explained that much of the road improvements the state is doing in Rockwood is because it has been recognized as an alternate route when Interstate 40 is closed on the mountain — particularly when incidents happen along the accident-prone mile marker 341 stretch.
“The state has agreed to put the new traffic lights in for the city of Rockwood to help control traffic,” Watts said.
Council, according to Watts, voted last month to pay the difference in the regular incandescent lighting and LED lighting, known to be better for its brightness and its energy savings. He estimated the city’s cost to be $13,000.
Other signs of upcoming work includes the widening of Hwy. 70 between Rockwood and Midtown from two to four lanes.
Right-of-way markers can be seen along the busy roadway in Rockwood.
The work has been broken down into three phases, the first of which is the right-of-way phase, according to Martinez.
The second phase is from east of Kingston Avenue to Patton Lane, which runs by Roane State Community College.
The third phase is from there to Midtown, where the road is already four lanes, according to Martinez.