Union Road proposed improvements concern local residents

Twenty-eight residents of Saddle Ridge and Fox Run subdivisions and others living along Union Road turned out to voice their concerns and possible solutions to the Union Road proposed improvement project.

Farragut Alderman Louise Povlin, who lives in Fox Run subdivision off Union Road, led the Community Conversation meeting Monday, June 26, in Farragut Town Hall.

Most of the residents who attended the meeting said they do not want Union Road “over-designed.”

“[Union Road] is a country road,” Doug Boles, Union Road resident, said, adding he wants to keep that country road feel.

Harry Tucker said when Everett Road was being developed, residents vehemently argued at Board meetings against having walking paths on both side of Everett Road or such a wide thoroughfare.

“You see that little bike lane, people can walk in that bike lane. You don’t need that extra sidewalk and all that stuff,” Boles said. “We don’t want this [road] to be a main hub.”

Straightening the road was another concern for residents and Povlin.

“I don’t want to straighten [Union] Road necessarily,” she said. “We have an opportunity, if we stop, take some time and really take a look at design, we could have a really special road that is safe for the vehicles that travel on it, that provides some kind of pedestrian facility so families can get out and walk and ride their bikes or whatever and have it adhere to the country feel of that road.

“I think straightening and making it look like Everett Road obliterates the personality of that property,” she added.

The Town is planning to improve Union Road from South Hobbs to Everett Road, as well as South Hobbs from Kingston Pike to Union Road. So far, planners are looking at including a completely new, wider two-lane curbed section with a walking trail and sidewalk.

The project also includes replacing the bridge on Union Road that goes over Little Turkey Creek. The Board hired Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. as the designer.

Povlin said there is no official design yet, so residents have an opportunity to weigh in on a design.

“This is an opportunity for you to give me ideas,” she said. “This [meeting] is meant to be something where community gives their feedback on what they want to see. You guys live there; you know the issues, so we’re trying to get as much information so we can get this road right. We have an opportunity to improve the road but improve it the way that it is indeed an improvement and an asset to our Town.

“But it’s going to take some careful design and citizen input is so important,” she added. “We are going to have a Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting where we will workshop this [issue] so the Board can give direction to Darryl [Smith, Town engineer] about whatever requests we’d like.”

However, the Town is receiving federal funding through Tennessee Department of Transportation, so it will have to meet TDOT’s guidelines.

Povlin said Union Road is considered a collector road, which “gathers traffic from local roads and funnels them to the arterial network.

“So, we are working in an urban environment,” she added. “I know people hear that and freak out, but roads are classified as either urban or rural and we are in an urban zone and suburbia tends to be more from an urban point of view. The fact that we are trying to be more walkable gives us more of an urban perspective.”

Residents, such as Tucker, agreed their biggest problems with Union Road are speeding and noise.

“They can be going 70 miles per hour behind my house,” he said.

“What he says is right,” Boles said. “All they’re going to do is open up another speedway … we don’t want that.”

“There’s a pervasive speeding issue in the Town of Farragut,” Povlin said. “It’s not just here; it’s everywhere. I’ve gotten some numbers and it’s really quite stunning how fast people travel.”

“Can somebody do something about it?” Boles asked.

“That’s the next community conversation [meeting],” Povlin answered.

“How about just calling the cops and let’s say, ‘Put some people out here?’” Boles asked.

“We try to do that but Knox County Sheriff’s [Office] does not have a speed enforcement program,” she said. “We may have to start looking at something a little bit more focused than trying to get Knox County Sheriff’s [Office] out to deal with it.”

Scott Meyer suggested making the road narrower or putting in speed bumps, but Russ Buchanan, Fox Run subdivision resident, objected to the speed bumps.

Povlin said the road needs to be safe enough for school buses.

Another problem was tight places along the road, such as the road in front of Charlene Trout’s home. Her house is right up to the road.

Residents also discussed a roundabout or a three-way stop.

“A roundabout would allow people from Fox Run to pull out,” Alderman Ron Williams said.

“I wouldn’t want a three-way stop there,” Buchanan said.