The first wreck, which happened at about 11:50 a.m., involved five vehicles, one of them an 18-wheeler.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, the wreck may have happened when one of the drivers dropped their cellphone and reached down to pick it up. When he took his eyes off the road, he turned into the other lane, hitting another car.
Both lanes of traffic were closed for about two hours because of the first wreck as cleanup crews worked to get all of the vehicles and rubble cleared away.
At about 4:40 p.m., another wreck at the same location shut down Highway 109 again.
According to state Rep. Susan Lynn, the project to widen the road between Highway 70 and Laguardo is fully funded but tied up in court.
“When a road gets widened, some land has to get taken,” said Lynn. “The government goes in and appraises the land and offers the owner a figure. Some people don’t like the appraisals, and they think their land is worth a little bit more due to factors unknown by the appraiser. When a price can’t be agreed on, the only option is to take it to court, and that’s where we are right now.”
The project was fully funded since August, but due to the court battles, is not expected to begin until February.
“Just by coincidence, I ran into one of the guys who is fighting it in court this morning,” said Lynn. “He wasn’t happy. He’s probably not going to get what he wants, and I can see his frustration. It’s hard to give up property. This is a dangerous road, though, and it’s going to continue to be a dangerous road until the construction is done.”
Lynn offered a few tips to stay safe on Highway 109 until the road is widened.
“What we can do is slow down, put down our cellphones and look straight ahead,” said Lynn. “There are going to be people turning into their driveways, and we need to be paying attention to make sure we don’t hit them.”