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Who recommended the Turnpike speed limits?

Orange safety cones at edge of highway

New permanent signs will be a welcome change from orange cones.

I was out of town for a couple of days, and I’m catching up with news.  WATE-TV reported that the Tennessee Dept of Transportation didn’t recommend those speed limits, after all. A TDOT spokesman said that the Oak Ridge city government (not TDOT) has the authority to establish speed limits on this road. The most puzzling part of the report is this quoted statement by a TDOT spokesperson:

“Last week, the city called our operations specialist supervisor to request we lower the speed limit on these two stretches of road in question. TDOT has explained that the city has the authority to establish the speed limit. TDOT did not recommend changing the speed limits on SR-95.”

I learned a long time ago not to believe everything I read in the media. News media reports are mostly accurate, but they often contain mistakes. Still, this confusing report strengthens my view that the most sensible choice (at least for now) is to keep the current 45 mph limit.



  1. Harry Pruitt says:

    So…. Are you going to research if the city stakk did indeed decide to change the speed limits on their own?

  2. Kit says:

    thanks so much for looking into this for us. Ellen. I truly appreciate it.
    And I got an email from Jane saying that it IS the State that makes the rules….hmmmm.
    So who actually does??? It seems disturbing that neither the City or the State knows who sets it up….Glad someone is getting to the bottom of it.

  3. Ellen Smith says:

    City staff sent an e-mail message to all City Council members late this afternoon, with the intent of clarifying some of the “media confusion.”

    The message we received states (in part): “The design engineers set the limits. All the ordinance change before you does is align the city ordinance with the consultant’s recommended speed limits as shown on the TDOT construction plans.”

    In addition, it says that the city engineer told the WATE reporter that the “design speed … was recommended by TDOT’s consultant, B&E Jackson Engineers, Inc.”, and that TDOT’s Region One Public Information Officer, Ms. Yvette Martinez and SR 95 TDOT Project Engineer told the reporter: “The speed limit zones shown on the construction plans were recommended by B&E Jackson Engineers, Inc. based on design criteria.”

    By the time I got the message, it was too late to phone city staff for more information. On the Internet, I learned that B&E Jackson Engineers is an Atlanta civil engineering consulting firm. Apparently this is the company that did the design drawings for the construction project (at one time I was told that the design had been done by an Atlanta engineering firm).

  4. Ellen Smith says:

    A couple of comments from Facebook…

    Earlier today, Bill wrote:
    I prefer 50 mph throughout, but 45 will do. Multiple speed limit changes over a relatively short distance is…..for lack of a better word….STUPID.

    A little later, Kit wrote:
    Yipppppeeee then I suggest that the Council reconsider the 45 MPH limit till after the Rarity Oaks second entrance….thanks Ellen . You are the Best.

    A few minutes ago, Bobbie wrote:
    Changing speeds is just asking for a ticket and so many I know who live outside Oak Ridge have the feeling that the turnpike is already a speed trap. We don’t need anymore negative issues added to us. Thanks for the explanation.

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