City, private developments prompt new road
The number of cars on certain Pigeon Forge back roads could more than double by 2012, according to a study detailing the potential traffic impacts of proposed city developments on the Jake Thomas Farm property.
Major city and private developments have been proposed for the area prompting the city to contract out for a traffic impact study to determine what will need to be done to accommodate the increased traffic volume associated with the developments.
“In 2005 there were about 21,500 ADT (average daily traffic) on Teaster Lane in this immediate area,” said Norm Johnson with Gresham Smith engineers. “Based on the impact that all of this proposed development we’re looking at having about 54,800 cars in 2012. The Parkway itself, in 2005 had average summer traffic at about 55,000 ADT,” he added. “So, it’s almost as much as the Parkway itself.” Jake Thomas Road averages about 31,900 ADT, he said.
Johnson met with Pigeon Forge officials in a work session meeting on Monday to discuss the findings of the study.
“We took this traffic and asked how many lanes we would need to carry that traffic,” said Johnson. “What we need on Teaster Lane, at least between Pigeon Falls and Jake Thomas Road, is at least three lanes in each direction.”
Pigeon Falls Lane is a future connector route that has been proposed as a piece of the package. Basically, Jake Thomas Road will be extended to the east past Teaster Lane, eventually tying into Middle Creek Road, according to City Manager Earlene Teaster.
Johnson said that Jake Thomas Road would also need to be widened to six lanes.
The area involved encompasses property for which the city has plans to build a large-scale civic events center, a new trolley hub, and a 2,000-space public parking facility on the site.
Furthermore, a private developer owning adjacent land has plans to build a major retail center complete with restaurants, entertainment establishments, lodging and retail shops.
The city contracted with Gresham Smith and Associates in November of 2005 at a price of $532,600 to: perform a traffic impact study ($34,900), a pedestrian and parking plan ($33,300), a trolley operations study ($7,800), roadway design services (242,400), traffic signal design services ($38,500), lighting design services ($29,200), civil/site design services ($35,100), greenway and landscape architecture services ($62,500), and water and sewer design services ($48,900).
Later Monday night, the Pigeon Forge Board of Commissioners convened for their regular monthly meeting, approving a $540,000 supplemental agreement to cover the project’s expanded scope. The expanded scope includes “increased roadway lengths, to take care of the bridge design itself, to do the final detail design on this survey road, to cover the cost of doing three additional signals,” Johnson explained.
Johnson recommended letting the project in two separate contracts in the interest of time.
“The first project would be Pigeon Falls Lane. That gets the contract on board sooner, gets the contractor to focus specifically on Pigeon Falls itself, which is critical to serving some of those properties,” Johnson said. “The quicker this road is built, the quicker the condos up here can get built and the quicker the city starts seeing a tax return.”
Johnson said that the Pigeon Falls portion of the project would be advertised for bidders on September 1 and the Jake Thomas portion would begin in February of 2007.