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Pine Ridge getting traffic light

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By Cindy Simpson

Dealing with a backup of traffic trying to exit Interstate 40 in Midtown may be a thing of the past.

The Harriman City Council accepted an offer by the state to install a traffic light at the mile marker 350 westbound exit at Pine Ridge Road.

Mayor Chris Mason said the state did a study of the interchange and offered to install a traffic light. The city would be responsible for its maintenance.

When that light will be installed is not certain at press time.

Several council members have talked about the high level of traffic and dangerous driving at the exit as traffic heading home from Knoxville in the afternoons hits the exit.

Many times, cars have to slow and pull alongside the interstate because the exit offramp is bumper to bumper. Much of the problem is drivers who have to wait to turn left into Midtown. A left turn requires crossing busy Pine Ridge Road.

Councilman J.D. Sampson, who lives in Midtown, uses the interchange regularly and often makes the left turn that bogs down the interchange.

“I have come in there, and it is backed up to the interstate,” he said. “I can definitely see a benefit for it.”

Councilman Buddy Holley said widening the ramp would also help ease congestion for those turning right toward South Harriman.

“There is no sense in putting a light up if it backs everyone up,” Holley said.

Holley has experienced the peril of the heavy traffic in the area firsthand.

“My wife had a wreck over there the other day,” he said.

Holley also said he thought it would be better if the exit was resurfaced in concrete. He said the current surface is washboard.

Councilman Kenyon Mee wondered if the light would benefit a lot of Harriman taxpayers.