Mt. Juliet, Tenn. – Mt. Juliet city officials have contacted the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) after noticing a pattern of crashes, all with the same location, on Interstate 40 East near the 226 mile-marker. Since January 1, 2015, Mt. Juliet Police have responded to nearly 30 crashes, 8 with reported injuries, at the same location on the Interstate 40 East. Almost all of the crashes have the same pattern: heavy rain and same location.
In early June, Mt. Juliet’s City Engineer, Andrew Barlow, contacted officials with TDOT after police and fire administration approached him regarding the pattern. It appears that every time there is heavy rain in that area, a hydroplane crash occurs; a car spins out and strikes the inside wall near the Mt. Juliet Road overpass. Crashes have been minor and very serious.
On May 26, 2015 a Mt. Juliet Police car was struck by a vehicle after it hydroplaned and struck the inside wall. The officer was already on the scene working a previous hydroplane crash.
On July 2, 2015 a father and his two children were travelling down I-40, hydroplaned, and spun-out under a tanker-truck. Amazingly, the family escaped without any critical injuries.
Today, while emergency crews were already on the scene of a crash and tending to the patients, an additional crash occurred in close proximity to them.
Mt. Juliet officials have been in constant contact with TDOT, sending them data and photos when the crashes occur. TDOT has been responsive and is evaluating the roadway and crashes. Overnight, on July 10, 2015, a TDOT crew checked to see if any drainage was clogged in the area. Their check revealed that the catch basins and pipes were open and not clogged. Now that TDOT has ensured the drainage is open, they will be conducting a survey to check the elevations of the pavement to see if there are any low spots that could be holding water. Currently, there is no timeline of when the survey will be conducted.
Ultimately, TDOT has control over the Interstate. Mt. Juliet officials are grateful for their responsiveness and actions to look into the issue. Motorists should be reminded that heavy downbursts can bring measurable amounts of rain in short periods of time, which creates rapid ponding on roadways that can lead vehicles to hydroplane because they are travelling too fast for conditions. Motorists are urged to slow down during heavy rain to avoid possible hydroplaning.