Five Points in Jonesborough has a new look now that construction has started on the highway. (Photos by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
JONESBOROUGH – A new development at Jonesborough’s “Five Points” intersection may lengthen commuter travel times, but a town official believes it could bolster safety for motorists and construction workers alike.
As construction crews begin building a traffic circle at the intersection of Depot Street, a temporary traffic light has been installed and the speed limit has been reduced to regulate traffic in the work area.
While the new developments may not make driving through the intersection any easier, according to Town Administrator Bob Browning, it may make it safer.
“I can’t necessarily say it’s making it easier,” Browning said. “As they’re building that traffic circle, with the amount of traffic that flows through that intersection, they’re having to create alternative measures for getting traffic through there that are safe for the motorists, but also for the construction crews.”
The project was approved in 2012 after the town asked for assistance from the Tennessee Department of Transportation after experiencing what Browning told the Johnson City Press was “a fairly significant number of accidents” at the intersection. In December, construction began after Summers-Taylor Inc. was awarded the contract, valued at $1,039,259.50.
As construction has progressed, and the temporary traffic light has been installed, Browning said motorists should expect longer-than-usual delays, especially during traffic’s peak hours.
“Most of the traffic issues are there in the late afternoon, when people are coming home, or early in the morning, when people are going to work,” Browning said. “Other times, traffic doesn’t slow down a whole lot.”
Browning said motorists could be getting a sneak peek at how traffic could move through the intersection once the traffic circle is completed.
“Other than those two heavily traveled time periods, a traffic circle keeps traffic flowing all the time,” Browning said. “It creates a much safer intersection and allows for traffic flow to keep going through there.”
TDOT Community Relations Officer Mark Nagi said the project has an estimated date of completion of May 14, even though work has been stymied by bouts of winter weather. Browning said he was appreciative of the effort put forth by Summers-Taylor’s construction crew.
“They’ve gone almost a couple of months without any activity because the weather was so bad,” Browning said. “That’s the good thing about having a contractor like Summers-Taylor on the job. We’re fortunate to have them.”
Summers-Taylor President Grant Summers said his crews were preparing for the construction of the traffic circle.
“We’ll be constructing the runaround over the next six weeks,” Summers said. “Then there will be another traffic switch onto the runaround to allow us to work on the kind-of off-ramp of (Tenn.) Highway 353 going toward Davy Crockett (High School).”
Summers said he still expects the project to be finished by mid-May.