City Reduces Speed Limit on Stretch of Chapman Hwy.

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
[email protected]
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

City Reduces Speed Limit on Stretch of Chapman Hwy.

Posted: 05/30/2019
Following an in-depth City Traffic Engineering study of portions of Chapman Highway, the speed limit has been reduced on a stretch of the road that is inside the city limits.

The speed limit has been lowered from 50 to 45 miles per hour on a 1.7-mile section from Ellis Road to the city limits, near Majestic Grove Road.

The change makes the speed limit a uniform 45 mph on Chapman Highway inside the city limits. The speed limit on Henley Bridge is 35 mph, and the speed limit from just south of the bridge (near the Kern’s Bakery building) to Ellis Road was already 45 miles per hour. That speed limit will remain the same, and additional signs will be added that remind drivers of the uniform 45 mph speed limit. 

“Speed is a factor in many crashes and also a factor in the severity of crashes,” said Jim Hagerman, City Director of Engineering. “By slowing down traffic, we aim to reduce the number of crashes and the extent of injury and damage that occur.”

The Traffic Engineering study included a section of the highway from Ellis Road to Majestic Grove Road. The study involved measuring and analyzing current actual speeds, frequency of driveways and intersections, and other factors. The study reviewed both northbound and southbound speeds on Chapman Highway.

Following analysis of the study, traffic engineers proposed the decrease in speed limit.

“There is a standardized procedure to make the evaluation, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation concurred with our proposed change,” Hagerman said.

City crews have posted the signs for the speed limit changes.

The City has made recent safety improvements to the Chapman Highway corridor, with more improvements in the works: 

• Realigned the Fort Dickerson intersection with improvements to signals and pedestrian crossing facilities (completed in 2015 at a cost of $1 million);

• Completed sidewalk construction on Young High Pike, including pedestrian facility improvements at the intersection with Chapman Highway (completed 2017; $260,000);

• Under construction: The reconfiguration of the Chapman Highway intersection with Blount Avenue, improving safety for all users. This is part of the Blount Avenue Streetscapes Project that includes $300,000 for signal improvements at this intersection;

• Currently in the right-of-way acquisition and utility coordination phase: Signalization improvement for the entire Chapman corridor (project cost estimated at $2 million);

• Collaborating with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to improve bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure on Chapman Highway by creating 3,200 feet of greenway between Stone Road and Woodlawn Pike and 525 feet of sidewalk from Woodlawn Pike to the existing sidewalk near Young High Pike. The project will also create pedestrian crossings at three intersections with Chapman Highway (Stone Road, Fronda Lane and Woodlawn Pike) and improve four Knoxville Area Transit bus stops. The state grant is $950,000 and the City is providing $858,000 in local funds (total project cost, $1.8 million); and

• Completed a concept plan for bike and pedestrian improvements from Henley Bridge to Lippencott Street.


Meanwhile, the Knoxville Police Department is conducting enhanced enforcement along Chapman Highway. Officers are focusing on citing motorists who speed, do not wear seat belts or are distracted.

In April, more than 130 people attended a community workshop on the Chapman Highway Implementation Plan, held at South-Doyle Middle School. This was the latest in a series of workshops and a survey involving the people who regularly drive Chapman Highway to help prioritize among roughly 50 proposed Chapman Highway safety improvements. Better intersection alignments and adding dedicated turn lanes or landscaped medians are among the proposed safety upgrades. 

The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization and the City will forward a final report this summer to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for its consideration. TDOT has committed $45 million to improvements along the Chapman Highway corridor from the Henley Bridge to Seymour.