The Collegedale Board of Commissioners, concerned with Internet chatter about the city being a speed trap, discussed its recent decision about lowering the speed limit on Lee Highway within the city limits. The police department conducted traffic and speed studies prior to the decision, said Police Chief Brian Hickman. This reinforced the concern since it found that along that stretch of the road the average speed was 73 mph coming into the city and 68 mph leaving.
Of particular concern, said City Manager Ted Rogers, and the primary reason for the change is because of trying to make the intersection of Edgemon Road and Lee Highway safer.
That intersection, which is complicated by a railroad track, has had two wrecks with fatalities and multiple crashes. There are also people leaving and entering driveways at businesses and homes along the road.
The length of Lee Highway in Chattanooga’s city limits has a speed limit of 45 mph. A small segment then runs through Hamilton County where the speed limit is 55 mph. The part of the road that continues through Collegedale until it gets to the Bradley County line has been lowered from 55 to 45.
TDOT has expressed concern about the change because it thinks the transition of the speeding cars down to the posted speed limit of 45 mph is too great. TDOT has plans to re-engineer the intersection and add a light and turn lane to make it safer. When those changes are implemented, the speed will drop. Hamilton County has said it will lower the speed on its portion once TDOT endorses it to match that in Chattanooga and Collegedale.
The commissioners agreed to stand by their decision to keep the speed limit at 45. Vice Mayor Tim Johnson said, “We were doing the right thing, we were looking out for the safety of the citizens.”
The “bridge plan” for police officers was approved on first and final vote on Monday night. The state law has changed and it now requires police officers to retire at age 60. The law also allows officers who are 55 with 25 years of service to retire early. Because the city adopted the bridge plan, police in both categories can be paid an increased pension for the time period before they are 65 when they can receive Social Security along with their state pension. The city of Collegedale is a member of the Tennessee pension plan.
The city manager reported that at 25 percent through the year, the city has received 24 percent of anticipated revenue. Collegedale received $781,000 from the Hall Tax for 2015, more than expected, but that tax will begin to decrease as the state phases it out, said Mr. Rogers. Expenditures for the month reflected the $1.5 million that the commission voted to give to itself when $1.5 million was donated to the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation so building of Collegedale Commons can be started. There will need to be a budget amendment, said the city manager, because with that expense the budget shows that 39 percent of the city’s planned expenses for the entire year have been spent in the first quarter of 2016.
Mayor Katie Lamb announced that Todd Leamon will join the planning commission and board of zoning appeals. He will replace David Barto, who is leaving both groups to concentrate on his involvement with the Collegedale Commons project.