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Chapman Highway sees two fatal crashes in 24 hours | News

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Chapman Highway sees two fatal crashes in 24 hours

ID=9741277(WBIR) Crews have reopened all lanes on Chapman Highway following a fatal crash, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The accident happened on Chapman Highway at Lindy Drive shortly before 11:45 a.m. Thursday.

A driver was attempting to cross all lanes of traffic when it pulled in front of a SUV. The SUV then hit the orange Chevy Aveo, killing the rear passenger.

Crews took the other people traveling in the car to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. The driver of the SUV suffered non-life threatening injures and was also taken to UT Medical Center. Their conditions aren't known at this time.

Officials aren't releasing the victims' names until their families are notified.

The crash happened two streets south of
where an accident killed the driver of an SUV less than 24 hours earlier.

Local residents told 10News Chapman Highway has been too dangerous for years, and is in need of major safety upgrades.

"There are a lot of accidents on this highway," said Ken Wilson, who has lived in the area for years. "It's the gateway to the Smokies. I believe it would be safer with more red lights."

Wilson said he saw the accident happen Thursday morning.

"I couldn't stomach my lunch. I saw her flying through the air," said Wilson. "It didn't sit well."

"It's just horrible to see someone lying there lifeless," said Teresa Wakefield, who also said she saw the accident. "I drove this road for 30 years with my children, and you really have to be careful because there are accidents all of the time."

TDOT said between 2007 and 2012, more than 1,200 wrecks were reported. In 2013, there were 140 from the stretch between the Henley Street Bridge and the Sevier County line.

"There's too many speeders," said Laura Bridges, who works at a salon near the crash scene. "It's just too fast, and drivers can't slow down when they're coming down the hill here."

The Tennessee Department of Transportation, TDOT, said several projects are in the works to improve safety along Chapman Highway.

Mark Nagi, TDOT's Region 1 community relations officer, said the project for Chapman Highway from the Henley Street Bridge to Gov. John Sevier Highway is still in the planning phase, as officials continue to study how to best improve safety on the road.

Nagi said TDOT is in the design phase for several other projects on stretches of the road south of Gov. John Sevier Highway. At the intersection, TDOT will relocate utility poles and make modifications to the median, among other upgrades.

From Hendron Chapel Road to Simpson Road, crews will widen the existing roadway and construct a center turn lane.

Between Evans Road and Burnett Lane in Blount County, Nagi said TDOT will widen the highway to a five-lane section.

Nagi also said crews will widen Chapman Highway to four traffic lanes with a continuous turn lane from Macon Lane to SR-338 in Sevier County.

"Each of these projects are being funded with federal dollars. Proceeding through the next phases of development will be dependent upon the department's ability to authorize available federal dollars," said Nagi. "The department remains committed to expediting these activities as much as possible in order to deliver these improvements by the earliest possible date."

Until then, local residents and employees seem to agree drivers need to use extra caution on Chapman Highway.

"Slow down," said Wilson. "Just slow down, because it's easy to gain speed off the hills, and there are a lot of children that cross here to get some ice cream."

"I have a large family and it scares me so bad. You never know if they're going to come home or if they don't. I have little nieces and nephews driving now," said Wakefield. "I think things need to be fixed, because drivers just plow through here."


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