Warren County is requesting the state add rumble strips along the highway on Harrison Ferry Mountain. The request comes after a sleeping motorist toppled a 300-foot communications tower.
Rumble strips are grooves in the roadway or rows of raised pavement markers placed on the roadway in such a manner that, as the tires of a vehicle contact them, they produce sound and vibration to alert the driver.
“If we had those rumble strips, it might have helped,” said Commissioner Randy England during a Highway and Bridge Committee meeting. If the state had put rumble strips there, we may not have lost the tower.”
Being on a state route, the Tennessee Department of Transportation would make the final decision on placing rumble strips.
The situation has been referred to a “freak accident.” On March 17, a motorist left the roadway and struck the guy wire on a DTC Wireless tower. As the tower fell, it brought down lines from both Ben Lomand Connect and Caney Fork Electric. While no one was injured in the crash, the southern part of Warren County was without power or landline communication for the better part of a day. Some cellphone users had to wait approximately two weeks before DTC could place two temporary towers to restore their service.
The temporary antenna system, known as a COW or cell on wheels, is currently in place at the site. The COW is a 100-foot tall antenna, which will provide temporary service to customers in the area while a permanent tower is being constructed.
“This temporary antenna system will allow wireless customers in the Harrison Ferry Mountain area to maintain their service while DTC Wireless works on a permanent solution,” said DTC Wireless CEO Craig Gates. “We understand how important our cell service is to our customers, and we appreciate the patience of our customers during this time.”
When it comes to the placement of rumble strips, England says, the straightness of the highway can create a hazardous situation when people are driving tired.
“Coming across that mountain, because it is so straight and if you have worked all night, the sun is hitting you. The next thing you know, you’re out,” said England.
Commissioner Blaine Wilcher says the area had little to do with it. “I worked night shift for 20 years. It doesn’t matter where you are at or what terrain, you are going to go to sleep.”
Road Superintendent Levie Glenn says he hasn’t heard if the state plans on placing rumble strips but he will check on it.