A Cumberland County commissioner has started a petition to install a traffic light at North Cumberland Elementary School.

Mark Baldwin, 7th District commissioner, said he is concerned about public safety at the intersection of Hwy. 127 N. and North Cumberland. Student Resource Officer Scott Iles has been struck twice by vehicles in the past year.

Baldwin said, “Many of us have wanted to see something changed for some time now. After Officer Iles nearly lost his life in the first accident, it became very clear that things needed to change. Then, he was struck again. At that point, Linda Clark (member of the public) approached me and said she knew of a school district that used officer-controlled traffic lights. This allows an officer to control the flow of traffic without being in the middle of the road.”

The petition states, “Sheriff Casey Cox has described this as the most dangerous school zone in Cumberland County. Something must be done to keep officers safer in this zone. With a light that he/she can control from their patrol car, the officer would be safely out of the road, while keeping traffic flowing smoothly with the light. The light would only be used for morning and afternoon school traffic.”

When the light is not in use for school traffic it could be turned off, or flashing yellow.

Baldwin said currently there are two yellow flashing lights, but the speed limit is 30 mph.

“Most school zone speed limits are lower than that,” Baldwin said.

He said the Tennessee Department of Transportation denied request for the officer-controlled traffic light from the Cumberland County school system.

“With enough support and push, I think we can get them to change their mind,” Baldwin said. “We have 196 signatures now.”

The North Cumberland Elementary school zone on Hwy. 127 N. is located along one of the most heavily traveled highways in this part of the state.

“My ultimate goal is to have the officer out of that roadway and in a position to safely control traffic flow. There is too much technology available today to put an officer's life at risk for school traffic flow. At the very least, we need additional flashing lights and signage to warn motorists of the school zone. We shouldn't have to wait for an officer to lose their life to make a change. That is completely unacceptable,” Baldwin said.

A link to the petition is on Baldwin’s county commissioner Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Baldwin7th/

Signatures must be from residents of Cumberland County.

Baldwin said he intends to present the petition to TDOT in mid-December.

“I hope to have at least 350 signatures. More would be great, though. It’s a state highway, so TDOT will have to approve anything that is done. Should I need the support of the county, I’m confident I will have that support,” Baldwin said.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com

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