As all Southsiders know, we’re in the midst of a construction boom! From the 900 new condos on the former property of the Chattanooga Choo Choo to the 300 condos between Main and Rossville to those other 5,000 new condos just around the corner, it’s hard to keep count of all the new construction projects! And while this is all very exciting for a condoficionado like myself, I saw something today that made me pause and wonder if there could possibly be some downside to having so many huge construction projects crammed into one tiny space.
I was walking with my three children (Salinger, Remedy and Anakin) when we heard a piercing screech and a thunderous boom. We rounded the corner onto Main Street to see a construction truck had plowed into the front of the Clear Story building — along the very stretch of sidewalk we had just passed.
According to gossip on the scene, the driver of the construction truck claims to have swerved to avoid a cyclist, causing a collision and a pile-up. Traffic quickly knotted in both directions, and nearby neighborhoods flooded with run-off traffic. Despite the calamity, it seems as if nobody was hurt. But I didn’t have time to stick around and verify that information with police, as I had to hurry home and prepare two pounds of tofu for burger night.
Let’s be honest… Main Street was already a death trap. Despite its width, the street offers only one lane in each direction with no dedicated turn lane. Traffic slows and stops with dangerous irregularity, and the corridor’s popularity with cyclists further complicates the matter. Rows of street parking obscure the view of anyone hoping to turn onto Main Street, and pedestrians dart across traffic with impunity.
And now in addition to all those failures of civic planning, we add the sudden appearance of ten billion new construction trucks muscling their way into traffic and slowly navigating wide turns onto narrow streets. It seems as if an accident like this was inevitable, and we should probably expect more in the future. We’re probably too far into the construction boom to undertake a massive project like widening Main Street or adding a turn lane. I guess that’s why they call it “civic planning” and not “civic reacting.”
I know we’re all very excited to get to live in small shared spaces with micro-kitchens and walkable farm-to-table restaurants, but sometimes you need to remind yourself that you can’t enjoy any of those amenities if you’ve been run over by a truck. Life is precious.