HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A study of Vietnam Veterans Boulevard shows it needs safety upgrades to reduce the number of wrecks near Exit 3 at the Highway 31E Bypass.
Safety enhancements have been put on hold due to a lack of funding.
Drivers and police in Hendersonville are hoping the much-needed safety enhancements to State Route 386, also known as Vietnam Veterans Boulevard, will happen before the end of 2015.
According to the Tennessee Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security, there have been 40 injury and property damage crashes at Exit 3 since 2013.
Inside the Hendersonville Police Department, the stretch of road is well known for wrecks, especially when it rains.
“If it rains, we go to that area and we wait,” Sergeant Mike Germany told News 2. “Normally it is due to vehicle speed and the driver coming off the ramp too fast.”
TDOT has dropped the recommended speed limit on the exit to 25 miles per hour.
The department also did a safety study of the exit, along with others that are known for car wrecks. They determined that Exit 3 needs safety upgrades.
“For this particular exit, we looked at horizontal curve data and we overlaid crash data on top of that,” TDOT spokeswoman Heather Jensen said. “Our threshold was looking at four or more crashes in a three-year period, so statistically there would be more than one crash each year.”
TDOT also decided to add high-friction surface treatment (HFST) to the exit.
“That is a fancy way of saying, ‘Let’s give more grip to the roadway,’” Jensen explained.
A similar project completed in 2006 at the Interstate 440 and Interstate 24 interchange reduced the number of crashes.
In the three years before the 2006 installation, there were 81 crashes, including one fatal wreck, 24 injury crashes, and 46 crashes in the rain.
In the three years following the HFST installation, crashes dropped to a total of 31, including one fatal wreck, five injury crashes, and six wrecks in the rain.
The problem is funding. While TDOT has decided to install the HFST to Exit 3 on Vietnam Veterans, the project has been delayed.
The money that would pay for the $66,000 project comes from the federal government.
“If we could fix it tomorrow, we absolutely would, but the money is just not there right now,” Jenson told News 2. “We are getting fewer dollars from the federal government and we have to prioritize our projects.”
TDOT plans to release the funding for the upgrades in Oct. 2015, if funding is available.
A federal highway transportation bill is only funded through May at this point. Other emergency projects or further cuts to funding could further delay the safety improvements.
The Exit 3 improvement is one of 50 projects in Middle Tennessee’s 26 counties on TDOT’s to-do list.
Meanwhile, Hendersonville police continue to have increased traffic enforcement in the area to help increase awareness and slow drivers.