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Other highway projects also are needed in region

Staff Report • Dec 7, 2012 at 8:53 AM

We were pleased in July to hear Tennessee Department of Transportation officials announce work will begin next year to upgrade Exit 13 of Interstate 26 in Gray. The $12.3 million project is a good start in addressing our local highway needs, but there are other issues along the I-26 corridor between Johnson City and Kingsport that are just as important.

One such project should be the reconstruction of the Interstate 81 and Interstate 26 interchange. The current configuration of the interchange is blamed for the high number of truck accidents that seem to occur daily at the intersection of the two interstates. These accidents often create monstrous traffic jams between Johnson City and Kingsport.

Another proposed project that has been at the top of Johnson City’s wish list for far too long is widening I-26 in the city. Time and time again, city leaders have asked the state to consider adding as many as four new lanes in some sections of the interstate. The state should also include a new and less-confusing interchange for downtown and State of Franklin Road as part of the widening project.

We ask our local state legislators to pursue these projects with due diligence when they return to work next month.

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