A fatal motorcycle crash that occurred just last week is serving as the tragic catalyst for officials to take a closer look at the intersection of Highway 109 and Academy Road in Lebanon.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol reports, officers responded to the crash after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28. The motorcyclist and a truck collided, killing the female motorcyclist.
And earlier this week, two Portland High students were killed on Hwy. 109 in Gallatin on their way home from a bowling match against Lebanon High when their vehicle collided with a semi trailer.
The meeting of Hwy. 109 and Academy Lane forms the border of two Wilson County Commission Districts represented by Ward 4 Commissioner Chad Barnard and Ward 5 Commissioner Jerry McFarland.
Wilson County District 5 Commissioner Jerry McFarland said that the issue is in the hands of the state - not the county - since Hwy. 109 is a state road. He said that the widening project is in the planning stages, he has heard from state officials.
"Widening the road is the only thing that is going to alleviate that traffic on 109. There is way too much traffic and it's almost impossible for someone pulling out from Academy Road to cross," he said.
Ward 6 Lebanon City Council Member Kathy Warmath said that she does not represent the area, because it is out of the city limits - but that she has witnessed it be a problem, much like the Hwy. 109 and Hwy. 70 intersection in her district that has been corrected.
"It took me about six years to get that fixed," she said. "We had accidents happening left and right - accidents on a routine basis. I just kept bringing it up."
TDOT held a meeting at Camp Boxwell recently, and while they did not go into specifics, officials took feedback from citizens on what projects were important to them.
"It was about access and safety," she said.
TDOT officials listened then when it came to traffic lights, and Warmath said she hopes that something will be done about the dangerous area on 109 and Academy Road before another fatality occurs.
Warmath learned that since the bridge on 109 is finished, they will soon widen the road to five lanes. "It would be better than it is now - there will not be as much stop-and-go," she said.
There are currently two right of way (widening) projects approved and funded by TDOT that stretch from Hwy. 70 north to the Wilson County line at the newly-constructed bridge. However, the department is feeling the pinch of their budget as federal funding has been locked up in Congress' inability to pass the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which makes up approximately 50 percent of the department's budget and of which goes to fund 90 percent of widening projects.
Although a stopgap plan was approved in in July, TDOT is still concerned about funding the several hundred projects that have been proposed statewide and yet to enter into the planning phases.
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