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Could Spikes Prevent Interstate Accidents?

Knoxville (WVLT) - A man charged in a deadly wrong way crash earlier this year remains in jail.

Thursday morning, the judge allowed for a delay of the arraignment of 33-year-old Clint Walker.

Walker requested the move, so his parents could attend.

Walker is charged with a number of crimes including vehicular homicide.

Police say walker drove the wrong way on Interstate 640, hitting a car head-on. Two brothers, and their friend died.

Walker's bond is set at $20,000.

Police and prosecutors allege Walker was drunk at the time.

But how many times have you, or some one you know, gotten confused, trying to get on-or-off the interstates during all this construction?

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd is live at the Papermill Exit with more
On the battle to keep the signs, up with the times.

Prime example right here, the exit onto Northshore finished just before rush hour.

Before all the signs are ready, could something a little sharper drive the point home?

We' likely won't know how Clint Walker wound up going the wrong way on I-640 until his trial for vehicular homicide.

But some life-long Knoxvillians say it's easy to mistake some exits for on-ramps.

"I didn't even get the turn completed, but I started turning up the road and saw cars coming the
other way," says life-long Bearden resident Michael Hampton.

"It pretty much makes sense to me. Just pay attention to the signs," says Knoxvillian Jeff Brown.

"You get more confused when you follow the signs," Hampton says.

After spending years and millions, widening the interstates and reworking the on-off ramps, "Everything looks different. One day something's open, the next day it's closed again," TDOT spokesman Travis Brickey admits.

Take the new West Hills exits at Montevue, three signs mark where you can't go or can't turn.

But, "All the lanes are not completely finished up there," Brickey says, "but we've got to have all those lanes opening, and functioning, for that signal plan, that sign plan, to be correct."

Which is why Knoxville Police have ridden herd at the Papermill Exit, dissuading drivers from turning left on a stretch not opened yet.

"I just sit back and watch em," one officer says.

North Carolina is taking it a step further, spike grates.

Knox County's 911 center uses them to keep intruders from crashing the gates. Could they keep us from trying to drive up the wrong ramp?

"All the states follow the federal highway manual for uniform traffic devices. That's just not
in the manual," Brickey says.

Not yet.

North Carolina hasn't finished studying them yet.

"One thing to remember, we're still in an active construction zone," Brickey says.

So Jeff and Michael figure confusion is "inevitable, all the work they're doing up there," as Jeff puts it.

"The only thing I can say is hopefully they'll be finished soon and the signs will be correct," Michael adds.

TDOT insists the signs not only will be correct, in some cases they'll be redundant.

This stretch of Papermill under the interstate has a solid yellow lane, and an electronic sign to make clear it's two way traffic.

Bottom line: assume nothing, double-check everything.


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