Residents ‘fed up’ with subdivision exit

  • Wrong: A driver is making an illegal U-turn at the intersection. The red truck is attempting to turn left out of Hunter’s Trail subdivision. The gray and white vehicles are turning left into the subdivision. The gray car is in the correct lane, but the white car did not pull forward before turning in.

  • Correct: The two drivers in the median are crossing the intersection correctly. They are staying in their lanes, despite there not being any lane markings. The off-duty sheriff’s vehicle is in the turning lane preparing to turn left into Hunter’s Trail. The arrow for that turning lane is just behind his vehicle. The lack of clear markings leaves people uncertain of where to go as they prepare to turn left.

“One day a resident will be dead trying to enter or leave, just because we don’t have the proper signs that are so easy to put up,” said Kaitlin Young, a resident of Hunter’s Trail subdivision in Clinton.

It’s a common complaint among residents of the Clinton neighborhood just behind Arby’s on Charles Seivers Boulevard. There is only one entrance/exit, and during rush hour, options are limited on how to safely exit the subdivision.

Rush hour is typically between 3:30-6:00 p.m. and 7:30-8:30 a.m. The school zone for Anderson County High School begins just a few blocks west, and that traffic backs up in front of Hunter’s Trail.

It’s at that point that everyone agrees no one knows what they’re doing.

As residents attempt to cross the two westbound lanes and enter the median to turn left, others already traveling west and trying to U-turn get in their way.

“People making U-turns there is what ends up stalling us so bad,” said Sarah Boehlke, an eight-year Hunter’s Trail resident. “When I see someone easing in to make a U-turn, I get frustrated and turn right. Then I make a U-turn at the light. I end up passing the same people stuck there.”

She added that Clinton is growing, which she said is wonderful, but the traffic issues are intensifying with seemingly no plan in place.

According to Clinton police officer Lt. Larry Miller, U-turns are illegal at those intersections per Tennessee State Code 54-16-108, which states that it’s illegal to make a U-turn unless a posted sign specifically states you can. It’s also prohibited in the Clinton municipal code.

Always. But most people think they are legal unless a sign is posted, according to Boehlke.

The fact that any U-turn is illegal may be the reason there isn’t a “no U-turn” sign there. But, that doesn’t mean that people know the law. The rules for turning at that intersection also seem to elude people, as shown by the photos in this story. Lt. Miller said that as a person turns, think of it as “staying in your lane.”

“If you’re leaving Doe Run Blvd. and headed straight, stay in your lane,” he said.

That means staying on the far-right side of the median.

“If you’re turning left into Hunter’s Trail, stay in your lane,” he restated.

That means, again, staying on the far-right side of the median.

Your right. That means the far end. This allows people to see oncoming traffic.

Right now, there is an abandoned Shell station across the street from the subdivision, and so a U-turn is the only reason anyone else would be in that lane. However, if any type of development were to go in across the street, the traffic scenario would become nightmarish for the subdivision residents if nothing changes.

Placing a “no U-turn” sign at that median would help, according to nine-year Hunter’s Trail resident Karina McCracken.

“I have to wait on three or four cars sometimes [that are u-turning] just to turn left out of here,” she said. “The more businesses, the worse it gets. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad for the growth. But it still needs to be fixed so we can exit out neighborhood.”

She would like to see a “no U-turn” sign, directional lines painted, or a red light installed.

“Whatever they feel would work,” McCracken said. “We have to be able to get out to work and take the kids to school. And that exit is our only option. That particular intersection needs to be for the people of this neighborhood and Arby’s customers.”

All three women have children, and they worry for their safety.

“It is extremely unsafe leaving/entering our supposedly family-safe neighborhood,” said Young. “There are just too many people making U-turns in that turning lane.”

And it’s not just left turns out of the subdivision, it’s left turns into the subdivision as well.

The responsibility for that stretch of the road falls on the City of Clinton and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“If it’s inside city limits, even on state routes, the city has some jurisdiction,” TDOT traffic engineer Nathan Vatter said. “They’re in charge of the warnings and regulatory signs. [Directional] striping would also fall under the city’s jurisdiction.”

Clinton City Manager Roger Houck, however, disagreed.

“The county mayor [Terry Frank] and I worked on this a couple years ago to try to get that area a traffic light,” Houck said. “But TDOT wouldn’t let us put one there.”

It was against their regulations, according to Houck, because there was already one close by at Frank L. Diggs Drive.

And while the intersection and Charles Seivers Boulevard falls under the City of Clinton because of an annexation that took place a few years ago, Hunter’s Trail does not. Hunter’s Trail is in the county, including Doe Run Boulevard, the road that leads out of the subdivision.

Tennessee State Code states that local authorities should place signs if they want traffic to flow differently than state code allows, but doesn’t say whether they should place signs in general.