EARLY WARN­ING

The Catoosa County News - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Cook

The city of Ring­gold has been look­ing to rem­edy the is­sue of large trucks get­ting stuck at the un­der­pass on U.S. High­way 41 at the De­pot for years, and of­fi­cials say an ad­vanced warn­ing sys­tem is on its way.

Dur­ing Ring­gold’s most re­cent City Coun­cil meet­ing in mid-dec., of­fi­cials dis­cussed the cur­rent plan be­ing de­vised with the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of La­bor (GDOT) to in­stall a more so­phis­ti­cated warn­ing sys­tem down­town to warn truck­ers of the height is­sues that ex­ist at the un­der­pass at Barger Bridge.

“We’ve been work­ing with the DOT now for sev­eral years and the last cou­ple of years in par­tic­u­lar about this height warn­ing sys­tem that we’re talk­ing about now,” said City Man­ager Dan Wright.

Wright said the plan is to in­stall sen­sors in town along Nashville Street and U.S. 41 that will warn truck­ers of the pend­ing 11-foot-7-inch height limit.

“This par­tic­u­lar sys­tem would be the in­frared sen­sors that op­er­ate sim­i­lar to a garage door sys­tem,” Wright ex­plained. “So, if a truck is pass­ing through town that is over 11-foot-7inches tall, it will break that in­frared bar­rier and make signs with LED lights start flash­ing to try to get that driver’s at­ten­tion.”

Dur­ing the dis­cus­sion, Wright said the de­tec­tors would be strate­gi­cally placed so trucks could ad­just and take the de­signed truck route that goes around City Hall, across the rail­road tracks, and down Evitt Street, or vicev­ersa de­pend­ing on which way they’re trav­el­ing into town.

“The in­frared signs de­tec­tor sys­tem would be mounted on new fiber­glass poles in front of the Ki­nard Realty of­fice and the First Bap­tist Church,” Wright said. “A new LED over-height flash­ing sign, and also a low bridge sign would be in­stalled on the ex­ist­ing util­ity pole at the cor­ner of the park­ing lot at the First Bap­tist Church at Maple and Nashville streets. There’s al­ready a pole there be­cause their goal is to get per­mis­sion from the util­ity com­pany.”

The plan also in­cludes putting truck route no­ti­fi­ca­tions on the ex­ist­ing over­head span wires that ex­ist down­town that al­ready house ban­ners pub­li­ciz­ing city events.

As for the no­ti­fi­ca­tion ad­di­tions on the south side of U.S. 41 com­ing from exit 345, Wright says the setup will be sim­i­lar to that of Nashville Street and will like­wise guide driv­ers to the des­ig­nated truck route.

“Just south of Evitt Street on U.S. 41, there would be an LED truck ‘over height exit right,’ so if peo­ple are trav­el­ing north and they’re about to come into town, it’ll tell them to turn right there,” Wright said. “Near the Je­ho­vah’s Wit­ness church they (GDOT) would in­stall a truck route sign, an­other blink­ing one. Just south of the church is where you would put the in­frared de­tec­tor sys­tem.”

Wright and Coun­cil­man Ran­dall Franks both stated the project will be funded by GDOT, but that an ad­di­tional re­quest to ex­pand the no­ti­fi­ca­tions to Lafayette Street could cre­ate some ex­pense for the city if GDOT doesn’t want to in­clude it in the plan.

“We’ve also asked for an ad­di­tional phase,” Wright said. “We’ve asked for them to look at Lafayette Street be­cause we have a lot of trucks that get con­fused and they get down­town and try to go un­der the un­der­pass and then of course there’s a prob­lem.”

Wright says the Lafayette Street no­ti­fi­ca­tions are im­por­tant for those trucks that take that route in­stead of tak­ing Alabama High­way all the way down to U.S. 41/Nashville Street.

“It’s my un­der­stand­ing that they’re (GDOT) plan­ning on pay­ing 100-per­cent of the cost,” Wright said. “If we get off sys­tem, like on Lafayette Street, there may be some cost there. We’re go­ing to ar­gue the fact that it’s to pro­tect their bridge, it’s not our bridge. It’s their right-of-way, and they feel this is the best way they can ad­dress the prob­lem.”

The coun­cil ul­ti­mately unan­i­mously ap­proved the new over-height sys­tem to be funded by GDOT, but also in­cluded in the mo­tion that the Lafayette Street is­sue be dis­cussed.

The city also wants to put sig­nage up at the un­der­pass fea­tur­ing a truck with the red “can’t” or “Ghost­busters” sym­bol around it.

“We’re find­ing that a lot of the peo­ple that get caught un­der this are good driv­ers who sim­ply don’t see or in­ter­pret some of the ex­ist­ing sig­nage,” Wright said.

“These lo­ca­tions and draw­ings look good to me,” Mayor Nick Mill­wood added.

/ Adam Cook

Ring­gold of­fi­cials are plan­ning a project with the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (GDOT) to bet­ter warn truck­ers about height is­sues at the un­der­pass on U.S. High­way 41 at the De­pot in down­town.

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