The town of Jonesborough’s plan to correct dangerous traffic patterns at the entrance to the Washington County Justice Center is on its way to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for a preliminary review.
The proposed reconfiguration of the center median and turn lanes on Jackson Boulevard (US 11E) at the Justice Center entrance and at nearby North Cherokee Street was approved by the town’s Traffic Advisory Committee in late May and presented to the board of mayor and aldermen last week.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said the plan, which will utilize concrete curbing and islands to prevent left turns onto the highway from North Cherokee and from the Justice Center’s main entrance, will come back to the board for consideration of any revisions suggested by TDOT engineers before an application is submitted for TDOT final authorization of the improvements.
In recommending the improvements, Mayor Kelly Wolfe told the board members the hazard created by eastbound motorists attempting to cross west bound traffic lanes on Jackson Boulevard in an attempt to turn east toward Johnson City is long standing and was made worse by the opening of the Justice Center two years ago.
Wolfe called the current traffic pattern at the Justice Center a hazard that has already resulted in serious injury to one town employee’s spouse and urged the board and the town staff to act as quickly as possible toward a solution.
According to Browning, the Traffic Advisory Committee developed the plan for improvements in cooperation with the Washington County Land Committee and with the assistance of Todd Wood of DT Wood engineering. In background, Browning said the committee considered several alternatives to prevent motorists exiting the Justice Center from crossing Jackson’s west bound traffic lanes in order to turn east toward Johnson City.
The final proposal calls for 70-foot extensions of both the east and west bound center turn lanes on Jackson with elevated curbing along the turn lanes that will work in conjunction with concrete islands at the Justice Center entrance and at the north and south outlets of Cherokee to prevent motorists exiting the Justice Center or entering the highway from North Cherokee from turning left across oncoming traffic.
The newly configured Justice Center entrance will route motorists exiting the center west toward the new traffic light at Second Avenue where a left turn signal will control traffic turning left toward Jonesborough’s downtown district and east toward Johnson City.
Wolfe called the proposal a compromise between the wishes of at least one business owner who is opposed to any changes at the North Cherokee intersection and county leaders who previously recommended a traffic signal at the intersection.
While county leaders have agreed to the proposal and expressed a willingness to help with the costs of the improvements, Browning said any financial assistance from the county will require approval of the county commission and is not a given. All the improvements will be located on existing town or state right-of-ways and can be constructed by town staff, he said.