The Tennessee Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting tonight to discuss construction plans and the progress of a safety project at the Five Points intersection of Tenn. Highway 81 South, Old State Route 34 and Tenn. Highway 353 in Jonesborough.
The meeting will be held in the library of the International Storytelling Center from 5 to 7 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.
Mark Nagi, TDOT community relations director, said there will be a short presentation on the proposed project, as well as an opportunity for those attending to ask questions to the 20 TDOT representatives attending.
“Anytime we have projects like this ... it’s part of the process to hold public meetings and to get feedback,” Nagi said. “More than anything it’s to provide information and give an update on where things stand.”
Town administrator Bob Browning said the Five Points project is a safety project proposed by TDOT approximately two years ago because of the rise in accidents at the intersection of Tenn. 81 South and Old State Route 34 at the west end of Jonesborough.
He said the project is nearly in a position to get started this spring.
“They (TDOT) have been working for probably almost two years ... on the design of that project and ... have gone through all the environmental work and archaeological and historical clearances,” Browning said. “They (TDOT) want to go ahead and have a public meeting in which they discuss ... what’s going to be done. It’s a little bit of an unusual project for us because it involves the traffic circle and they want to go over the design of that and ... just talk about it.”
He said there has been some opposition to the traffic roundabout, mainly because of a grocery store and land that will have to be purchased to make the project a success.
Browning said the market’s location provided drainage problems, as well as placement of major power lines that would have had to be moved in order to keep the store.
“The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to support the traffic circle concept and it’s largely due to the fact that ... there’s some major traffic flows at that intersection during the early morning period,” he said. “The county and state routes sort of radiate out of Jonesborough and there’s only two major arterial routes that go between Jonesborough and the western end of Washington County.”
Browning said a traffic signal aggravated the traffic problem, but believes the traffic circle will work better for the town’s thru traffic.
“The one thing that’s nice about a traffic circle is that is slows traffic down,” he said. “They also allow the traffic to continue moving, so ... you’re not sitting there waiting for a traffic signal to change when there’s nobody even at the intersection. You can move on through.”
Browning said the town has been continuously talking with TDOT to coordinate the traffic circle preliminary plans and the meeting is just to inform those interested in the project of what’s happening with the roundabout so far.
“We’re trying to communicate with people and let them know if they are interested that the meeting will be held,” he said.
Comment cards will also be distributed to those attending the meeting.